Austral, Florence


Autograph sentiment signed by one of Australia's finest dramatic sopranos, renowned for Wagnerian roles



Autograph ID: 6685
Condition: Very good, teeny mount remnant top left corner, 2 light folds
Description: “(1892-1968) (B. Mary Wilson) Australian operatic soprano renowned for the most demanding Wagnerian female roles, although she never sang at Bayreuth or at the Metropolitan Opera. By general critical consent, she remains the finest dramatic soprano ever produced by Australia. Born Florence Mary Wilson, adopted professional "Austral" in 1921 to honor her homeland. Considered to have few equals in sheer vocal quality until Flagstad's arrival, which made her recordings vastly enjoyable. She, Lubin, and Leider were considered the great Wagnerian dramatic sopranos of their era, together with Flagstad who did not rise to international fame until the 1930s. Discovered by the choirmaster at her Melbourne church, in 1914 she won first prizes in the soprano and mezzo-soprano categories at a singing contest in Ballarat. She went to NYC in 1919 to study and was offered a contract to sing at the Metropolitan Opera; she declined the Met offer to gain stage experience in England. In London she was promoted by leading British bass Robert Radford and made her Covent Garden debut in 1922 as Brünnhilde in "Die Walkure" and later in the same role in "Siegfried." She shared the role with Frida Leider who received greater acclaim due to her superior acting skills. Austral's other roles at Covent Garden included Isolde and Aida. In 1923, she appeared with Dame Nellie Melba, who called her, "one of the wonder voices of the world", praising her tone and the power of her high notes. Unfortunately she ended up singing more with the British National Opera Company than at Covent Garden in the 1920s. During the mid-20s she made the 1st of 100+ recordings, operatic arias, songs, sacred music and oratorio extracts. She also recorded duets opposite Chaliapin and others. In 1925, Austral married Australian flautist John Amadio and they toured widely together in America, Europe and Australia. She often sang the Ring operas in Philadelphia and in concert under conductor Fritz Reiner. She become a principal singer with the Berlin State Opera in 1930, and in that year showed the first signs of multiple sclerosis which manifested themselves on stage during a performance of "Die Walkure". Her opera career gradually suffered due to the advance of the disease. She toured with tenor Walter Widdop 1934–35, singing the Australian premiere of "The Pearl Fishers." She returned to Britain in 1939, and sang in many benefit concerts in the early part of WW II, before illness forced her to retire in 1940, returning to Australia in 1946. She taught singing at the Newcastle Conservatorium (now part of the University of Newcastle, New South Wales) 1954-59.

Autograph sentiment (“Warmest Greetings/and every good wish/Yours sincerely)" signed on a 4 ¼ x 5 ½ sheet, undated but ca. 1930.”
Type: Autograph Sentiment Signed

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