FAMILY

Following was written by her oldest daughter Frances:

My mother
went to Julliard when she was 18 years old and sang on Broadway in the Chocolate Soldier, the Merry Widow, Rosalinda, Three Musketeers, Rose Marie and the national touring company of Kiss Me Kate. (All lead roles). She had 2-3 seasons with the San Francisco Opera.

The film, The Creation of the Humanoids, was and is the MOST AWFUL movie since the Tomatoes That Ate Cleveland. But it was initially done as a color screen test for her and then became the movie. She hated it and so do we all. But she looks beautiful and my children and grandchildren love the "funny" parts with their grandmother.

In Germany, she sang in... Peer Gynt (Rothaerige ), La Boheme (Musetta), Pagliacci (Nedda), Cavereria Rusticana (Santuzza), Tosca (Tosca), Masked Ball (Amelia), La Traviata ( Violetta), Il Trovatore (Leonore), and Lohengrin (Elsa)... among others.

While in Berlin, ( 1960-1963) her most important and wonderful period, there she was triumphant as Aida, (Aida) Donna Anna, (Don Giovanni), and finally as Minnie, in the Girl of the Golden West. At one point, we were told, after her first Aida aria, the audience would not stop clapping and cheering. She had to come out of character, step to the front if the stage and ask the audience to please allow the rest of the opera to continue.!)

She was killed on March 15, 1963 when I was just 18 years old. I learned of her death while listening to the radio news while I was on my way to take my highschool final exams. I got out of my car and ran home to inform my father (and 3 younger siblings).The "official" news of her death came to us through a telegram from the American Embassy in Rome 2 days later.

She had been in Rome where she had purchased a gown for an audition with Giancarlo Menotti in Milan the next day. The man who killed her was not, as the newspaper claimed, her manager or agent, but by today's usage, her "stalker." We had met him and he wanted only her.
She refused to leave my father and her 4 children and so he killed her, then shot himself, claiming "If I can't have her no one else can." He died of pneumonia 2 weeks later. He was a German businessman and I have prayed for his 2 children for years. We were victims, but so were they.

I think that the "clip" that you have seen is from the Snader Film Library. These were short clips used as "fillers" when television was live and the timing wasn't perfect. They were done not too long before her death and you saw that she was a gorgeous woman.

However, as the film is in b&w you thought that she was a brunette.  Not so...her hair was FLAMING RED! and her jade green eyes were striking.

She had gone to Rome from Berlin where she had been the leading guest soprano to the Berlin State Opera for two years. She was also a guest performer in the opera houses of Munich, Luebeck, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Cologne, and several others.

Her life was cut short by a crazy man and the beautiful voice was no longer heard. Her voice never wavered, and flowed like velvet. When she hit the highest notes, they "just came out". Her throat never fluttered, and her jaw never quivered. She was lovely, beautiful and an exceptional artist. When I was in Berlin in the late 1960's, the women in the costumers department wept for her and held me tightly. They said that she was the kindest and most loving woman they had ever known. The Impresario at that time invited me to stay in his home. He spoke of Frances as if she were a goddess, and yet he loved how she would get in his kitchen and cook (American dishes that her family loved), for his family.

A remarkable person she was. Flawed, of course, but talented and gifted.

 


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Joseph W. Rodgers,
Santa Cruz, CA

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