She came to the United States with her family at the age of seven. Her parents placed her on the stage at an early age, and she made her first appearance in January, 1842, at the Tremont Theatre, Boston. The following year she obtained an engagement at the Boston Museum, where she remained about eight years. When Jenny Lind appeared in Boston in 1850, Adelaide sang for her, and was advised to go to Europe.
It was largely owing to the Swedish singer's generosity and aid that Phillipps's father was enabled to take her abroad. They arrived in London in March 1852, and Adelaide became the pupil of Manuel García. In 1853 she went with her father, who was a well known falconer at the time, to Italy to continue her studies, and made her début the same year at Brescia, as Arsace in Semiramide. She sang also in Milan and other cities. Her stage name in Europe was Signorina Fillippi.
In 1855, she returned to the United States. She made an engagement to appear in Italian opera in Philadelphia and New York City under Max Maretzek, and later went with him to Havana, Cuba. In 1860 she made her first appearance in oratorio with the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston, in the Messiah. The following year she went abroad again, and appeared in Paris as Azucena in Il Trovatore. After a professional tour in Europe she returned to this country. In 1864 she went again to Havana, and from that time until her death she appeared in opera, oratorio, and concerts in most of the states of the Union. The Adelaide Phillipps Opera Company was organized in 1876, and in 1879 she joined the Ideal Opera Company, remaining with the latter until 1881, when she made her last appearance on the stage in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Failing health compelled her to rest, and she went to Europe in the hope of recovery, but died suddenly at Carlsbad. Phillipps' voice was a contralto, with a compass of two and one half octaves. The characters in which she excelled were Rosina, Leonora, and Azucena.
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- Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "Phillipps, Adelaide". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. which in turn cites:
- Anna Cabot Lowell Waterston, Adelaide Phillipps, a Record (Boston, 1883)
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