Irene Pavloska

Irene Pavloska (b Lévi). Mezzo-soprano, b St-Jean, Que, 17 Feb 1889, d Chicago 12 Feb 1962. Raised in Montreal, where her parents settled when she was three, she began piano lessons when she was six. She later studied for 18 months with Clara Folin in Frankfurt while in boarding school there.

Pavloska, Irene

Irene Pavloska (b Lévi). Mezzo-soprano, b St-Jean, Que, 17 Feb 1889, d Chicago 12 Feb 1962. Raised in Montreal, where her parents settled when she was three, she began piano lessons when she was six. She later studied for 18 months with Clara Folin in Frankfurt while in boarding school there. Under the pseudonym Olga Pawloska she sang several small roles with the Montreal Opera Company in 1911-12. Study with Edmond Duvernoy in Paris was followed by a season 1914-15 in New York and on tour as Juliska Fekete in Kalman's Sari. She re-assumed the name Irene and replaced the 'w' in Pawloska with a 'v' in 1914. On 19 Nov 1915 she made her Chicago Opera debut, singing Musetta to Melba's Mimi, and remained associated with that company until her retirement in 1934, singing some 60 roles in four languages including Princess Clarice in the premiere (1921, in French translation) of Prokofiev's The Love of Three Oranges under the composer's baton.

Although a delightful exponent of such 'trouser' roles as Siebel in Faust, Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, and Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Pavloska was most closely identified with Musetta, a role for which her beautifully schooled mezzo and sparkling personality were ideally suited. She also sang Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Mallika in Lakmé, Charlotte in Werther, mezzo roles in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, and, many times, the title role in Carmen. She also appeared in light opera in Canada and the USA (Rose Marie, The Chimes of Normandy, and various works by Gilbert & Sullivan).

Pavloska appeared frequently in recital and with orchestras such as (1921-2 season) the Minneapolis SO. She was on the auditioning committee of the Metropolitan Opera Company in the 1930s. She recorded six items (including 'Musetta's Waltz') for Brunswick ca 1921. Also a composer in a modest way, she wrote a song, 'In My Dreams' (Forster 1926). A sister, Blanche Lévi, studied violin with Alfred De Sève. Pavloska was buried in Montreal and left her library to McGill University.


Further Reading

  • Moore, Edward C. Forty Years of Opera in Chicago (New York 1930)

    Davis, Ronald. Opera in Chicago (New York 1966)

    Roll Back the Years