Eames, Emma


One of the most illustrious sopranos of the present day. The daughter of American parents, she was born at Shanghai, China, but was brought to this country when five years old. Her mother was a vocalist and taught at Portland, Maine. Emma lived with her grand-parents at Bath, Maine. She began lessons, under her mother, at the age of fifteen; and no doubt owed much of her after success to the care bestowed on her voice at this period. She was sent to Boston in 1886, where for two years she studied singing under Miss Munger. She afterward studied in Paris under Mme. Marchesi, also stage deportment under Plugue. In this city she was expected to appear in La Traviata at the Opera Comique, but was unnecessarily delayed by intrigue on the part of her manager; and in the meantime secured a better engagement, and made her debut at the Grand Opera in a part which Patti had created, and for which Marches! has presented Eames to Gounod who, on hearing her sing, was delighted with her and personally supervised her practice of this role, and later that of Mireille. Her first appearance, despite the inevitable comparison with Patti, was such a success as to be called the musical event of the season. She was engaged at the Grand Opera for the next three years, creating the part of Colombe in SaintSaens' Ascanio, and of Zaire in De La Nux's opera of that name. In 1891 she made her London debut at Covent Garden as Marguerite in Faust, where the dignity and true artistic refinement of her singing immediately won favor with the most cultured of her audience. The same year she sang Elsa in Lohengrin after but one rehearsal; also appearing as Desdemona in Verdi's Otello. In this year she married the painter, Julian Story, well-known in artistic circles. In October she returned to America, and was engaged by Abbey and Grau for a season of opera in a company, including Jean and Edouard De Reszke and other celebrities. They sang in Chicago for five weeks, and then began the New York season at the Metropolitan Opera House, where it is said thousands were turned away from the performances, especially that of Faust. In Boston, the place of her early study, she was given a reception unsurpassed by that of any previous artist. Eames' thorough musicianship and purity and dignity of style are in part due to her having illustrated, while a pupil, the soprano parts in Prof. Paine's lectures on old church music. Mme. Eames has sung almost constantly in London and New York, appearing in many different characters both in Italian and German Opera. In addition to these languages and her native tongue, she sings in French, and has created the principal part in several operas, including L. E. Bach's Lady of Longford, and Hero in Mancinelli's Eroe e Leandro. Other parts in which she has sung with marked success are Michaela in Carmen, the Countess in Figaro, Valentine in The Huguenots, and Charlotte in Werther. Three Wagnerian roles to which she is especially well suited are Eva in Die Meistersinger, Sieglinde in Die Walkure, and Elisabeth in Tannhauser, this last being considered by some critics her best. Among her   most recent appearances are Marguerite, in 1906; and La Tosca; and Aida in Verdi's operas of the same name, in the season of 1907. Her success, unlike that of many other operatic singers, is due less to dramatic ability than to the quality of her voice, which is flexible and remarkably clear and uniform throughout the middle as well as the upper register, and to her thorough artistic training. Subordinate only to the charm of her singing itself, her personal beauty and faultless taste in stage attire are important factors in her success as an individual.