Aves, Etheldreda Belle [Dreda] (1894–1942)

By: Mary M. Standifer

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: October 15, 2020

Dreda Aves, operatic soprano, was born Etheldreda Belle Aves on August 6, 1894, in Norwalk, Ohio. She was the daughter of Rev. Charles S. and Jessie Olivia (Hughes) Aves. Dreda was taken as a child to Galveston, where her father was rector of Trinity Episcopal Church. She first studied singing with Hu T. Huffmaster, director of the Galveston Choral Club and organist at her father's church. Her father reportedly had "vigorous moral objections" to Dreda's singing in public, with the result that she sang only at church services until she left Texas. She attended the University of Texas in 1913–14, during which time Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink, a renowned contralto, encouraged her to study in the East. Aves attended Columbia University in 1916 and studied for two years at the Damrosch Institute of Musical Art in New York.

She debuted with the De Foe Carlin Opera Company in the title role of Carmen in Baltimore in 1922. She sang for a season with the Havana Opera Company, toured with the San Carlo Opera Company in 1924 and 1925, and was a guest artist with the Philadelphia Civic Opera in 1927 and the Dresden Opera in 1928. Although she began her career as a contralto, with the advice and help of Vilonat, her last teacher, she became a dramatic soprano. Aves joined the Metropolitan Opera in 1927 and made her debut there in Aïda in 1928. She remained with the Metropolitan through the end of the 1931–32 season and later sang with the San Carlo Opera, an American touring company. During her career she also appeared with the Friends of Music (New York), the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, and other groups. She moved from New York City to Buckeye Lake in Ohio in 1940 or 1941. She died on April 17, 1942, in the nearby town of Newark after an illness of several months and was survived by three brothers and a sister. She was buried in a mausoleum in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Newark.

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Alcalde (magazine of the Ex-Students' Association of the University of Texas), April 1928. “Dreda Aves,” Find A Grave Memorial (http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=79874373), accessed September 6, 2015. Musical America, April 25, 1942. New York Times, April 18, 1942. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 2.

  • Music
  • Genres (Classical)
  • Women
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • East Texas
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • Galveston

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Mary M. Standifer, “Aves, Etheldreda Belle [Dreda],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 27, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/aves-etheldreda-belle-dreda.

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November 1, 1994
October 15, 2020

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