Remembering Maine’s diva
Camden — In May, Michael Lund of Lincolnville presented a 100 Years of Grand Opera talk at the Camden Public Library with a focus on Midcoast opera personalities, director/teacher/accompanist Beaumont Glass, who died last year in Camden; and Bidu Sayao, the Brazilian soprano who sang with the Metropolitan Opera from 1937 to 1952 and lived for many years in Lincolnville.
Tuesday, Nov. 5, Lund will present a new program that celebrates another Maine connection — Lillian Nordica, born Lilly Norton in Farmington.
The 7 p.m. talk at Camden Public Library is dedicated to Nordica and will include some recordings of her singing, although they were made late in her career. Nordica, who became known for her Wagnerian roles, made her opera debut in Italy in 1879 and went on to sing in both Europe and the United States, including at the Metropolitan and Boston opera houses. She survived a shipwreck during an extended tour of the Pacific but fell ill and died in Java in 1914.
Although her heyday preceded, for the most part, sound recording, there is plenty of written testament to the beauty of her singing. In fact, she was a bit of a popular culture star — even now, many who have never heard of Nordica might recognize her from the turn-of-the-20th-century Coca-Cola collectibles on which she appeared.
Lund traveled to Farmington this summer to visit the Nordica Homestead Museum, which has turned the childhood home of the singer known as The Yankee Diva into a shrine of sorts. Filled with photographs, sheet music, costumes, stage jewelry, life-size oil portraits and gifts from such admirers as the Emperor of China and Diamond Jim Brady, the seasonal museum offers a glimpse of another age and of the effect a voice the 21st century will never hear at its finest had on listeners around the world.
Lund, a trained baritone who has himself sung all over the globe, has delivered illustrated music talks all over the country, done radio commentary on stations coast to coast, regularly writes CD liner notes for major record companies and runs his own business, Serendipity Recordings, that aims to keep the legacy of great opera and popular singers of the past alive. Many opera recordings will be available for purchase at the library. Lund’s program will range from Nordica, Caruso and Melba to Pavarotti and Fleming via recorded performances of opera and classical song.
At the library, Lund will be introduced by Jane Parker, vice-president of the Nordica Museum board and a voice teach at UMaine, Farmington. Midcoast opera fans will enjoy the first presentation of this program, which will be repeated next summer in UMF’s Lillian Nordica Memorial Auditorium, sponsored by the Lillian Nordica Memorial Association.
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
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Dagney has been providing Courier coverage of the local arts scene since 1985 and has helmed the multi-paper A&E section since it debuted in 2003. She has been a local performing artist, community and professional, for almost 30 years and spent a decade writing, producing and announcing on-air for several Midcoast radio stations. When not in the NewsNest, Dagney likes to be in motion.