Anna de Belloca (1854- )
Daughter of a Russian Councilor of State, Anna de Belloca enjoyed a thorough and cosmopolitan education in St. Petersburg and Paris. Adept in five languages, a talented painter, Anna de Belloca found her true calling as a singer, training with Nissen Salaman in her youth, refining her art with Nicolas Labache in Paris, and achieving mastery under M. Strakosch. Her beauty assisted her entry to the stage. Blessed with luminous black eyes, richly brown tresses, long lashes, and a strikingly pale complexion she appeared more an aristocratic northern Italian than a Russian. Her voice encompassed the ranges of both contralto and mezzo-soprano, with the technical control of a mezzo. She had not sung more than a few notes in her first role--Rosina in Rossini's "Il Barbiere de Seville" at the Salle Ventador in Paris--when the audience realized they were hearing a profound artist at work. The round, full, bell like warmth of her voice became the standard by which every Rosina would be judged in Europe for a quarter century. She followed this success with an incandescent performance in "Lucrezia Borgia." Then came successes in "La Cenerentola" and "Semiramide" before joining the Mapleson Opera Company and repeating her triumphs in London. Her American debut took play in April 1876 and provoked the same tremendous response she had in the European capitals. Her American tours with the Strakosch Opera Company generated substantial income. Her American repertoire included Amneris in "Aida" and Nancy in "Martha." When she attempted Carmen, she provoked a storm of critical controversy. Indignant at the violence of the vituperation, she turned her back on America in 1881 making Paris the center of her performing life for the 1880s. During the course of her career she performed most of the standard mezzo roles in the Italian romantic repertoire.