t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e

Alwina Valleria

Alwina Valleria

Alwina Valleria, born Alwina Schoening at Baltimore on 12 October 1848, studied in London with T.A.Wallworth at the Royal Academy of Music and also with conductor Luigi Arditi. Her operatic debut, probably arranged by Arditi, was at Saint Petersburg in 1871. Other continental appearances followed before returning to London to make her debut at Drury Lane in Martha on 3 May 1873. Her career was largely in London and the British provinces for the next five years; she created Michaela in the British premiere of Carmen at Her Majesty’s Theatre on 22 June 1878. She subsequently sang on both sides of the Atlantic and made her American debut at the New York Academy of Music in October 1879. Four years later she featured in the inaugural season of the new Metropolitan Opera Company and acquired the distinction of being the first American singer to sing at the Met. Back in Britain she was in Italian Opera at Covent Garden for four seasons from 1879 and in English Opera with Carl Rosa from 1882.

Valleria made her Rosa debut as Senta in The Flying Dutchman at Her Majesty’s Theatre on 16 January 1882. She followed this with Olivia in the British premiere of Balfe’s Painter of Antwerp, Elizabeth in the first British English-language Tannhäuser, and Irene in Rienzi. During the following season she added Trovatore, Faust, and Esmeralda and created the title role in the world premiere of Alexander Mackenzie’s opera Colomba at Drury Lane on 9 April 1883. Two more world premieres in the same theatre followed, Goring Thomas’s Nadeshda on 16 April 1885 and Mackenzie’s The Troubadour on 8 June 1886. The illustration depicts her as Nadeshda. Statistically, she made seventy six appearances in ten operas over a four year period, divided almost evenly between London and the provinces. During this time she took part in five Rosa firsts creating three roles in world premieres. Her association with the company was significant.

Opera was abandoned after 1886. This, given her international status as an operatic soprano, is surprising but she had made her home in Britain and settled for the British concert platform. Her career as a concert artist closed with the century. She died at Nice in France on 17 February 1925. 

© 2017 John Ward

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