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Madame Blanche Corelli - Cindy Lippincott

Madame Blanche Corelli - Cindy Lippincott

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Her father was Carl (Compars) Herrmann (1816–1887), a German illusionist and magician performing throughout Europe and the Americas for decades as Herrmann the Great. Her beloved mother Rosa Csillag (1832–1892), born in Hungary to a Jewish cantor, found her illustrious husband and her own celebrity in Vienna, where she was the primadonna mezzo-soprano at the Vienna Imperial Opera.

Maria Dorothea Herrmann was born in 1853 in Russia after her mother sang the “difficult straining role of Leonore in Beethoven’s Fidelio,” as she describes her own creation story. Despite her parents’ divorce after a very short marriage, her mother’s connections enabled this talented and ambitious young songstress to come of age and find her own beautiful voice among the musical glitterati of Europe’s late 19th century. She would soon choose Blanche Corelli as her stage name and earn an international reputation to equal her mother’s fame, singing bel canto in Europe and America, even heading her own opera company in the US. After retirement she taught voice in Berlin.

In 1928, a scruffy 21-year-old Ohio State University grad waited in line at Deutsche Bank in Berlin to cash his dad’s modest check so he could keep on pedaling his bicycle through Europe and beyond. Madame Corelli, now 75 years old with few remaining solvent pupils, overheard the boy speaking English and approached Hall Lippincott with an invitation to join her at lunch later that day. The result of their chance meeting was eleven years of correspondence and a not insignificant source of financial help for Madame Corelli during her increasingly fraught and lean years in the 1930s as Hitler tightened his chokehold on Germany with disastrous consequences for Jews, no matter how famous they might be.

NEW, paperback, 341 pages

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