Louise Edvina

(Marie) Louise (Lucienne Juliette) Edvina (b Martin). Soprano, b Montreal 28 May 1878, d London 13 Nov 1948. She was raised in Vancouver, where she made several appearances as an amateur.

Edvina, Louise

(Marie) Louise (Lucienne Juliette) Edvina (b Martin). Soprano, b Montreal 28 May 1878, d London 13 Nov 1948. She was raised in Vancouver, where she made several appearances as an amateur. Her studies were exclusively with Jean de Reszke in Paris, and her debut was at Covent Garden, as Marguerite in Faust, 15 Jul 1908. Her performance 18 Jun 1909 in the British premiere of Charpentier's Louise established her as one of London's favourite artists. Subsequently she was admired as Desdemona, Mélisande, Thaïs, Tosca, Manon, Maliella in Wolf Ferrari's I Gioielli della Madonna, and several other characters. Her North American debut was with the Montreal Opera, as Louise (5 Nov 1912). Three weeks later she began the first of two highly successful seasons as a member of Henry Russell's Boston Opera. With that company she visited Paris in April 1914, singing Fiora in the French premiere of Montemezzi's L'Amore dei tre Re.

Career 1915 to 1926 and Family

In her prime Edvina was also heard in Brussels, Stockholm, and Monte Carlo, at the Paris Opera and Opéra-Comique, and with the Chicago Opera. She made a single appearance at the Metropolitan Opera (27 Nov 1915) as Tosca, with Caruso. Her operatic career was interrupted by World War I, during which period she gave her services at many benefit concerts and undertook her only concert tour (1916) of Canada. Following her farewell operatic performances in 1924 at Covent Garden, she played in 1926 in an unsuccessful musical comedy, Hearts and Diamonds, at London's Strand Theatre.

Edvina's three marriages - to James Matthews Buxton in 1898, the Honourable Cecil Edwards in 1901, and Major Nicholas Rothesay Stuart Wortley in 1919 - ended in widowhood. By Edwards she had two daughters, Marie Bride and Lumena Sibyl Grace. After her third husband's death in 1926, she retired to Cannes, where she operated an antique shop until the coming of World War II.

Assessment

A highly sophisticated woman of great integrity, warmth, and charm, Edvina's performances in the fiery masterworks (Tosca, I Gioielli della Madonna, Francesca da Rimini) of modern Italy were sometimes faulted for lack of temperament. In roles more congenial to her graceful talents (Mélisande, Marguerite, Louise), it is not uncommon to find contemporary critics preferring her interpretations to those of as celebrated a rival as Mary Garden. Quaintance Eaton, in her history The Boston Opera Company (New York 1965), wrote: 'Her clear vitality of spirit was one of her most attractive qualities. Her limpid and even voice with its pure sensuous quality held great charm, even though produced in the ''open'' French manner. She showed expertness in shading and molding and coloring. ''Very modern'' as an actress, she sang too well for the ancients to flout her on that score.'

Recordings

Edvina's six records (which include samples of her most admired portrayals, Louise and Tosca) were made for HMV in 1921 when she was past her prime. They are listed in Roll Back the Years and have been reissued (with the exception of 'Vissi d'arte' from Tosca) on a Rococo LP (5254), which Edvina shares with Jeanne Gordon and Edward Johnson. She can be heard as well on Great Voices of Canada (Analekta AN2 7801).


Further Reading

  • McLean, Eric. "A grand tradition: Louise Edvina 1878-1948," Opera Canada, Summer 1992

    McPherson, Jim. "Louise Edvina," Record Collection, Jan-Mar 1993