Della Chiesa, Vivienne


Lyric soprano, with Chicago Opera 1930s-40s, popular nightclub & radio singer



Autograph ID: 5002
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1915-2009) Popular American lyric soprano, sang on the radio during the 1940s and early 1950s. She performed a wide variety of classical and popular works from opera to musical theatre, jazz, and popular songs. She sang on a number of radio programs, including The American Album of Familiar Music, The American Melody Hour, and The Standard Hour among others. A particularly important triumph for her radio career was a 1943 radio concert of Brahms’s “Deutsches Requiem” with conductor Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. In addition to her radio career, Della Chiesa performed actively on the opera stage, mostly at the Chicago City Opera Company and the Chicago Opera Company, during the 1930s & 1940s. In the 1950s, she became a successful nightclub singer, headlining at major clubs in Las Vegas, Reno, and in other US cities. After her singing career ended she worked as a voice teacher and a fundraiser for charity. Her mother was an accomplished pianist, whose father had been a conductor in Italy, and who initiated Vivian’s training in piano at an early age. She also studied singing and violin and by 10 was interested in opera. While in her teens Della Chiesa studied for 3 years with Marion Claire of the Chicago Opera Company. In 1935, she won a contest sponsored by a CBS network affiliate. Her prize was a $100/week contract to appear on 13 weekly radio programs. This led to an invitation from Paul Longone, impresario of the Chicago Opera, to audition. She obtained an engagement with the company for 3 years. She debuted Nov.15, 1936 as Mimi in “La Bohème”. She also appeared with the company as Adina, (“L’Elisir D’Amore”), Micaela (“Carmen”), Marguerite (“Faust”) and Eudoxie (“La Juive”). In 1943 she twice sang under the baton of the composer Italo Montemezzi in his own works: “L’ Amore dei tre re” (Fiora) and, on Oct. 9, in the premiere of “L’Incantesima” (Griselda) with the NBC Symphony. She sang with the San Francisco Opera in 1944 (“Falstaff”-Alice; “Faust”- Marguerite) and in 1945 (“Boris Godunov”-Marina (in Italian with Ezio Pinza); “Cavalleria Rusticana”-Santuzza; “Don Giovanni”-Donna Elvira; “La Bohème”-Mimi). Vivian also appeared with the St. Louis Opera, the Cincinnati Opera Company and the Havana International Opera. She appeared with the New York City Opera in 1947 as Madalena in “Andrea Chenier”. Della Chiesa also was a soloist with the Chicago Symphony and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Radio was an important part of Della Chiesa’s career. Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s she sang popular and classical music on shows such as the Carnation Hour, the Magic Key, the Firestone Hour, Album of Familiar Music (Bayer Aspirin), American Melody Hour and Standard Hour. During the late 1960s, she spent a brief time as an afternoon TV show hostess on Cincinnati’s WLWT. Her career eventually made the transition into featured attraction at supper clubs such as the Waldorf-Astoria Empire Room and nightclubs.

ISP, 10 x 8 glossy sepia bust portrait. IMAGE NOTE: blue dot on her upper lip is NOT on original photograph but from “red eye”, light rflecting on glossy surface.”
Type: Photograph

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