Marcella Sembrich

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sembrich, Marcella


(pseudonym of Marcelina Kochańska). Born Feb. 18, 1858, in Wisniewczyk, Galicia, present-day Ukrainian SSR; died Jan. 11, 1935, in New York. Polish coloratura soprano.

Sembrich’s musical talent appeared at an early age. She studied piano at the L’vov Conservatory (1869–73) and the Vienna Conservatory (1875–77). In 1875, on the advice of F. Liszt, she began to study singing and became a pupil of V. Rokitansky and G. Lamperti. After making her debut in Athens in 1877, she performed in Dresden (1878) and in London (1880–85). From 1898 to 1909 she sang at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, also touring Germany, Spain, Russia (first in 1880), the Scandinavian countries, the United States, and France. Sembrich performed more than 40 roles in the operas of Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, and Wagner. After retiring from the stage, she taught (from 1924) at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and at the Juilliard School in New York. Sembrich was a famous singer, and her voice was noted for its wide range and rare expressiveness.


Klein, H. Great Women Singers of My Time. London, 1931.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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In her introduction to the edition of The SeaFairies published by Hildegard Publishing, Adrienne Fried Block points out that the sirens might have been understood as some of the great nineteenth-century singers-- Emma Eames, Geraldine F arrar, Marcella Sembrich, and Lillian Nordica are mentioned--cultural heroines who commanded the highest salaries of any musicians.
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