Lenore M. Cohron (later known as Leonora Corona), operatic soprano, was born in Dallas on October 14, 1890. She was the daughter of Judge Cicero F. and Annie Jean (Chambers) Cohron. Her father, a prominent Dallas attorney, died in 1904. She exhibited an interest in singing and acting as a child, but spent most of her youth studying piano with her mother, who remained her mentor and close companion throughout her career. Lenore was considered a child prodigy and gave solo recitals in Dallas. She attended Oak Cliff High School in Dallas before her family moved to Seattle. While living on the West Coast as a teenager, she became increasingly drawn to singing after hearing the Chicago Grand Opera and the Scotti Opera Company perform. These experiences inspired her to write a brief opera entitled "The Egyptian Tragedy," which was performed in Seattle. With some encouragement from prominent opera performers of the time, she determined to change her emphasis from piano to opera. She studied voice in New York and Italy and made her operatic debut around 1924 in Naples, where she changed her name to Leonora Corona.
Corona's career in Italy included singing five operas under Tullio Serafin, a future conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, and performing at La Scala in Milan. She sang in more than twenty-five European theaters before signing a contract with the Bracale Opera Company and touring in Havana and Puerto Rico. She signed a long-term contract with the Metropolitan Opera in 1927 and made her debut there in November of that year in the role of Leonora in Verdi's Il Trovatore. The Dallas Morning News took interest in Corona's debut and reported that she was the first Dallas girl to perform at the Met. In April 1928 Corona returned to Dallas for a visit amidst great fanfare. She was honored with a parade and greetings by Mayor R. E. Burt. She also gave a performance at Fair Park Auditorium.
Corona sang at the Met for eight seasons, performing in twelve operas during this time. Known particularly for her performances in Italian operas, she sang the leading roles in Tosca, Aïda, and Don Giovanni. During these years she also performed at Carnegie Hall and at the Opéra Comique in Paris. Critics praised both her vocal and dramatic powers and her picturesque beauty. Her tenure with the Met overlapped with that of two other Texans, Etheldreda Aves of Galveston and Rafaelo Diaz of San Antonio, and followed the career of Texan Lillian Eubank. Throughout this time Corona maintained ties to her hometown by returning to Dallas occasionally for concerts and other special events.
After her career with the Met concluded in 1935, she continued to perform professionally. She sang with such regional opera companies as the San Carlo Opera of Chicago, and presented recitals at both Town Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York. She appeared in a performance of Julia Smith's Cynthia Parker at North Texas State Teachers College (now the University of North Texas) in Denton in 1939. Throughout her career she encouraged Americans to take a greater interest in opera. In 1972 she married Elliott Erwin Stanford, who became manager of the Boston Grand Opera Company. She maintained a career as a voice coach until her death on May 1, 1988, in Miami Beach Florida, where she was cremated.
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Dallas Morning News, April 29, May 2, 1928, June 25, 1932, April 7, 1933. Files, Library and Museum of the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, New York Public Library. New York Times, November 16, 25, 1927, October 6, 1937. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Debbie Mauldin Cottrell,
“Cohron, Lenore [Leonora Corona],”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 22, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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