Suzanne Adams (28 November 1872 – 5 February 1953) was an American lyric coloratura soprano. Known for her agile and pure voice, Adams first became well known in France before establishing herself as one of the Metropolitan Opera's leading sopranos at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Adams was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She studied in New York with Jacques Bouhy and then in Paris with Mathilde Marchesi. She made her opera début at the Paris Opéra in 1894 or 1895 as Juliette in Charles Gounod's Roméo et Juliette. She studied the role of Juliet and the role of Marguerite from Faust with Gounod himself, who greatly admired her fine technique, brilliant tone, and vocal flexibility.
She remained at the Paris Opera for three years and then went to Nice. While in France she sang numeroues roles by Gounod and Meyerbeer, as well as the Queen of the Night in the The Magic Flute and the title role in Gluck's Eurydice among other roles. In the summer of 1898 she appeared at Covent Garden, London as Hero in the world premiere of C. V. Stanford's Much Ado About Nothing. She went on to join the Metropolitan Opera in New York City where she sang numerous roles during the seasons of 1898-99 to 1903. Her roles at the Met included Juliette, Marguerite, Marguerite de Valois from Les Huguenots, Micaela from Carmen, Cherubino from Le nozze di Figaro, Donna Elvira from Don Giovanni, Philine from Mignon, Berthe from Le prophète, the Forest Bird from Siegfried, Nedda from Pagliacci, Gilda from Rigoletto, Infanta from Le Cid, Inès from L'Africaine, and Mimì from La bohème among others.
In 1898 she married Leo Stern, an English cellist who died in 1904. Following Stern's death, Adams soon retired from the stage and settled in London. She appeared at Covent Garden in some performances of Carmen in November 1906 (presumably as Micaela), these may have been among her last appearances in opera. Judging from a New York passenger list of 1903, she had already ceased to be a US citizen; presumably she had become a British citizen. However, the recently released UK 1911 census has her as a US citizen resident in the UK. She is reported to have taught singing for many years, further details are lacking so far. She appeared in a few concerts in the UK in 1905 and 1906. She visited the United States in late 1907 to appear in vaudeville in Chicago, New York and elsewhere.
In 1915 she married John Lumsden Mackay, 'of independent means'. Details of John Mackay's life are lacking, but he may have had some career as an actor before World War I (sources: NY passenger list of 1912; 'Garrick Club' as address in WWI medal index). He served in WWI, possibly as a sick bay attendant with the Navy, and was awarded the 1915 Star etc. He died in November 1934. They lived for many years north of Hyde Park in London at 55 Inverness Terrace. She may have continued teaching until her death in London in 1953.
Note: Some reference books[which?] claim that she managed a laundry in London after her retirement, but do not cite reliable primary sources for this.
Adams recorded five cylinders for Gianni Bettini in 1898. In 1902 she made five disc recordings in London for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company's new Red Seal series, four of which were issued in the United States by the Victor Talking Machine Company the following year. Seven more records were made in the United States for Columbia Records' 1903 Grand Opera Series. She also appears on a few of the Mapleson Cylinders, including (probably) the one of the Queen's aria from Les Huguenots previously attributed to Melba.
- Hoffmann, Frank; Howard Ferstler (2005). Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, Volume 1. CRC Press. p. 12. ISBN 0-415-93835-X.
- Leonard, John William; Marquis, Albert Nelson, eds. (1908), Who's who in America 5, Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, Incorporated, p. 11.
- Bolig, John (2004). The Victor Red Seal Discography 1. Denver, Colorado: Mainspring Press. p. 2. ISBN 0-9671819-8-4.
- Herman Klein/Harold Rosenthal: "Suzanne Adams", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed September 26, 2008), (subscription access)
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Moore, F., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
- "Adams, Suzanne". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
- "Adams, Suzanne". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.