Pauline Donalda

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Pauline Donalda
Pauline Donalda.jpg
Pauline Donalda, circa 1906
Background information
Birth name Pauline Lightstone
Born (1882-03-05)March 5, 1882
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died October 22, 1970(1970-10-22) (aged 88)
Montreal, Quebec
Genres Opera
Occupation(s) Singer (soprano)
Years active 1905–1922

Pauline Donalda, OC (March 5, 1882 – October 22, 1970) was a Canadian operatic soprano.

Early Life and Education[edit]

Donalda was born Pauline Lightstone in Montreal, Quebec, the daughter of Jewish parents who changed their surname from Lichtenstein to Lightstone after immigrating from Russia and Poland. She studied with Clara Lichtenstein (no relation) at Royal Victoria College, part of McGill University. In 1902, went to the Conservatoire de Paris on a grant from Donald Smith, Lord Strathcona, the patron of RVC. There, she studied voice with Edmond Duvernoy. She adopted the stage name Donalda in honour of her patron.[1]


With the help of composer Jules Massenet, Donalda made her debut in 1904 in Nice, singing the title role in his opera Manon. The following year, she debuted in London, singing the role of Micaëla in Carmen.[1] Donalda was the first to sing the roles of Concepción in Maurice Ravel's L'heure espagnole and Ah-joe in Franco Leoni's L'Oracolo at Covent Garden.[2] In November 1906, she returned to Montreal to sing in a recital at the Montreal Arena with her new husband, baritone Paul Seveilhac. The following month, she began a season with Oscar Hammerstein's new Manhattan Opera House.[1] She returned to Europe in 1907, singing principally in London and Paris.

Donalda was in Canada when World War I broke out. She chose to remain in the country, singing in concerts and music halls, with occasional appearances in New York and Boston. In Montreal, she organized the Donalda Sunday Afternoon Concerts, donating the proceeds to war charities. She returned to Paris in 1917, and married her second husband, Mischa Léon, there the following year.

In 1922, Donalda opened a teaching studio in Paris where she taught many students over the next few years. She moved back to Montreal in 1937 and opened a studio there. Her students in Montreal included Robert Savoie. She founded the Opera Guild of Montreal in 1942, serving as president and artistic director until 1969.

In 1967, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada "for her contribution to the arts, especially opera, as a singer and founder of the Opera Guild in Montreal."[3]


  1. ^ a b c Potvin, Gilles (15 December 2013). "Pauline Donalda". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  2. ^ Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed., 1954, Eric Blom, ed.
  3. ^ Order of Canada citation

External links[edit]