La Sheridan remembered.

The only female operatic voice I was familiar with before I entered my teens was that of soprano Margaret Burke-Sheridan (1889-1958). She was probably brought to my attention because she was actually born in Castlebar, the  County Mayo town situated not all that far from my own home town of Ballina

  

Burke-Sheridan’s recording of I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls (from the opera The Bohemian Girl by Michael William Balfe was, I seem to recall, regularly played the national radio station, Radio Éireann (later to become RTÉ),  and whenever it was, one could be depend upon it that some fellow listener would point out that Burke Sheridan was a “Mayo woman”.

 

It was only much later that I learned that Burke Sheridan was much more than a local celebrity with a very appealing voice.  She had, in professional opera-singing career that began rather late and lasted a mere 12 years, performed on stages throughout the world, among them Covent Garden, in Milan and Naples, and at the prestigious Carnivale season at Rimini, with all the greats, including the tenors Aureliano Pertile and Beniamino Gigli  and the autocratic music director of La Scala Arturo Toscanini, and was coached by the great Giacomo Puccini 

 

Indeed Puccini openly admitted to being spellbound by her moving interpretation of Cio-Cio San in his Madame Butterfly and when Gigli was making his debut in Covent Garden, he chose her as his leading lady.

 

She was fully deserving of her celebrity.

 

margaret-burke-sheridan

Commemorative stamp of Margaret Burke-Sheridan birth anniversary. Image from Wikipedia.

 

 RTE One at the 2008 Margaret Burke-Sheridan Exhibition in Castlebar, County Mayo only  

Margaret Burke Sheridan  and mezzo Ida Mannarini sing the Flower duet (“Una nave da guerra”) from the 1929/1930 La Scala production recording of  Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.” .

2009

La Sheridan – a gala operatic tribute to Margaret Burke Sheridan

RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Orla Boylan soprano
Anne Marie Gibbons mezzo-soprano
Alfie Boe tenor
John Wilson conductor

Pre-concert talk by Margaret Burke Sheridan’s biographer, author Anne Chambers in the Carolan Room at 6.45pm

Wednesday 29 April, 8pm
NATIONAL CONCERT HALL

Tickets: €15, €30, €45 (concessions available)
Booking: 01 417 0000 www.nch.ie

 

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