Dorothy Kirsten

Dorothy Kirsten

American opera singer (soprano)
Date of Birth: 06.07.1910
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Dorothy Kirsten
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Operatic Career
  4. Later Life and Legacy

Biography of Dorothy Kirsten

Dorothy Kirsten, an American opera singer (soprano), was born on July 6, 1910, in Montclair, New Jersey. Her mother was an organist and music teacher, her grandfather was a conductor, and her second cousin was an opera singer.

Dorothy Kirsten

Early Life and Career

Kirsten finished high school at the age of 16 and worked at the 'Singer' sewing company and 'New Jersey Bell' telephone company while studying vocal music in her free time. Her teacher, Louis Darnay, eventually hired her as a secretary and maid.

Dorothy Kirsten

By the late 1930s, Kirsten was regularly performing on radio station WINS and developing her professional career. She became a member of Kate Smith's choir and a vocalist for pop orchestras. In 1938, she studied under Grace Moore while in Rome with Astolfo Pescia.

Dorothy Kirsten

World War II interrupted Kirsten's European career, and she returned to the United States in 1939. She performed at the International Fair in New York and had her own radio program called 'Keepsakes' from 1943 to 1944.

Operatic Career

In 1943, Kirsten sang soprano at the Philadelphia La Scala Opera Company (PLSOC), where she remained until 1947. Her debut outside the city was on May 18, 1943, in Pittsburgh, performing the role of Mimi in Giacomo Puccini's opera 'La Boheme' alongside Nino Martini and Carlo Morelli.

During the 1943-1944 theater season, PLSOC performed at the Academy of Music concert hall, where Kirsten played Mimi multiple times and sang the role of Nedda in 'Pagliacci' with Giovanni Martinelli as Canio. She went on tour with the theater to Detroit in October 1943 and opened the 1944-1945 season as Micaela in Georges Bizet's opera 'Carmen' alongside Bruna Castagna.

Kirsten also toured with the theater to Cleveland and Washington, D.C., where she played Marguerite in Charles Gounod's opera 'Faust' in February 1946.

In December 1949, Kirsten recorded the opera 'Manon Lescaut' with renowned tenor Jussi Björling. Her final season with PLSOC was in 1946-1947, during which she performed as Cio-cio-san in 'Madama Butterfly' and Juliette in 'Roméo et Juliette'.

In September 1945, Kirsten made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Mimi in 'La Boheme' and worked with the renowned New York theater for three consecutive years. She primarily performed in the United States but occasionally traveled to Europe. In 1962, she visited the USSR, performing as Violetta in 'La Traviata' at the Bolshoi Theatre.

Kirsten's singing could be heard on the American premieres of William Walton's opera 'Troilus and Cressida' and Francis Poulenc's opera 'Dialogues of the Carmelites' in San Francisco. She also performed on radio with Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nelson Eddy, and Perry Como.

In addition to her operatic career, Kirsten appeared in two films: the musical comedy 'Mr. Music' in 1951 and the musical drama 'The Great Caruso' in 1951.

Later Life and Legacy

Kirsten's final performance took place on January 10, 1979, at the Metropolitan Opera, where she played Floria Tosca in the opera 'Tosca'. She published her autobiography 'A Time to Sing' in 1982.

Kirsten was married three times. Her first marriage to Edward MacKayes Oates ended in 1949. She married Eugene Chapman in 1951, but he passed away three years later. Her third husband, neurosurgeon Douglas French, died in 1989.

Kirsten suffered a stroke on November 5, 1992, and passed away from complications on November 18, 1992, in Los Angeles, California.