Lucchese, Josephine (1893–1974)

By: Judith N. McArthur

Type: Biography

Published: March 1, 1995

Updated: November 30, 2019

Josephine Lucchese, opera singer, was born in San Antonio on July 24, 1893 (some sources mistakenly say 1901). She was one of seven children of Sam and Frances (Battaglia) Lucchese. Sam Lucchese was a bootmaker. Josephine received her musical training entirely in the United States and primarily in San Antonio, where she graduated from Main Avenue High School. She took up the study of the mandolin at age six and the piano at age ten; at fifteen she began voice lessons with Virginia Colombati. Three years later she accompanied Mme. Colombati to New York, where she continued her studies and made her recital debut at Aeolian Hall on November 26, 1919. She made her operatic debut as Olympia in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann, on September 22, 1920.

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. She was featured at the Teatro Nacional in Havana and appeared with opera companies in Berlin, Hamburg, Prague, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. She was especially acclaimed for her performances of such coloratura roles as Lucia di Lammermoor and Rosina in The Barber of Seville.

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 was twice married: first to her business manager, Adolfo Caruso, and later to Florentine Donato. She died in San Antonio on September 10, 1974, and was buried in St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery.

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The Italian Texans (San Antonio: University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, 1973). San Antonio Light, May 3, 1981.

  • Music
  • Genres (Classical)
  • Women

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

Judith N. McArthur, “Lucchese, Josephine,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995
November 30, 2019

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