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"American Nightingale" debuts in New York


On this day in 1920, soprano Josephine Lucchese of San Antonio made her operatic debut with the San Carlo Grand Opera as Olympia in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffman at the Manhattan Grand Opera House. She was born in San Antonio in 1893, the daughter of bootmaker Sam Lucchese, and received her musical training entirely in the United States and primarily in San Antonio. During the 1920s and 1930s Mme. Lucchese toured in the United States and Europe, giving both opera and concert performances and singing opposite such leading tenors as Tito Schipa and Giovanni Martinelli. Known in Europe as the "American Nightingale," Lucchese was an operatic success at a time when it was considered impossible to achieve an international reputation without having first studied in Italy. Lucchese returned to Texas at the close of her operatic and concert career and taught voice at the University of Texas from 1956 to 1968. After her retirement from the faculty, she continued to give private lessons to a few select students. She died in San Antonio in 1974.

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