Edna Smith de Nunzio (1905-1985) was an operatic singer from San Francisco. When the San Francisco Opera opened for its first
season in 1923, she was engaged by Gaetano Merola to sing in the chorus, where she eventually transitioned to larger roles.
By the late twenties, she had developed enough in the company to travel to Los Angeles for performances at the Shrine Auditorium.
During this time, she also began making radio appearances and performing in musical society recitals and concerts. She became
a regular on KGO, often with conductor Alfred Hertz of the San Francisco Opera. At this time, Smith married Arthur de Nunzio,
a baritone from Los Angeles. He was general manager and impresario of Corriere dell' Aria, an Italian language radio in which
he featured the voice of Edna Smith de Nunzio. In 1937, Mme. Gina Cigna heard her sing and decided to become her benefactor.
In 1938, they sailed to Italy together, where Edna was placed under contract to Cigna's manager, Attilio Lamponi. There, she
won the Italian government's national concert audition, enabling her to sing at Circolo Fascista di Milno and the Italia in
Milan, as well as on Italian radio. She moved back to San Francisco during World War II, but returned again to Italy after
the war, where she experienced some success but not on the previous level. This collection chronicles her career through autographed
and inscribed photographs, autograph albums, letters, programs, posters, and clippings.
Edna Elizabeth Smith was born June 16, 1905, in San Francisco. She was the daughter of J.E. Smith of the Public Health Service,
was educated at Roosevelt Junior High, and graduated from the Girls' High School. When the San Francisco Opera opened for
its first season in 1923, she was engaged by Gaetano Merola to sing in the chorus. During the next several seasons, she appeared
in many opera productions, including the San Francisco premiere of Puccini's Turandot in 1927. By the late twenties, she had
developed enough in the company to travel to Los Angeles for performances at the Shrine Auditorium. During these years, Edna
made many radio appearances and performed in musical society recitals and concerts. Throughout the early thirties, she continued
to make radio guest appearances on KGO, often with conductor Alfred Hertz of the San Francisco Opera. During the 1930’s, Smith
sang in a number of San Francisco Opera productions. At this time, Smith married Arthur de Nunzio, a baritone from Los Angeles,
who had a wide experience in that city organizing classical music performances on the radio. In 1935, he was general manager
and impresario of Corriere dell' Aria, an Italian language "newspaper of the air" in which he featured the voice of Edna Smith
de Nunzio. By 1937, she was singing on a KYA radio series called Ship of Joy Cruises. It was also in 1937 that Mme. Gina Cigna,
Metropolitan Opera and La Scala star, heard de Nunzio in recital in San Francisco and agreed to assist in forwarding Edna's
career. She became her benefactor and in February 1938, they sailed to Italy to study together. In Milan, Edna de Nunzio was
placed under contract to Cigna's manager, Attilio Lamponi. She gave her first public concert in Italy in Novemeber 1938, at
Circolo Fascista di Milno. In April 1940, she won the Italian government's national concert audition. This enabled her to
gain the artistic permit necessary to "debut" in Italy. This occurred in July 1940, when she appeared as Leonora in Trovatore
at the Italia in Milan. She later sang in Tosca and soon achieved a repertoire of eleven opera roles. She also sang extensively
on Italian radio. By August 1942, it was necessary for de Nunzio to return to San Francisco because of the Second World War
raging in Italy. After the war, it is difficult to determine her movements and progress. She returned to Italy and renewed
some of her contacts. Judging from the Italian press clippings in the collection, she achieved some of her pre-war glory.
The Italian reviews reveal that she regularly changed her stage name in an effort to retain her novelty, but she did not attain
the acclaim she hoped for. Among the stage names she used were Laura Vetta, Anne de Nunzio, and Nerina Ferrari. Edna de Nunzio
returned to San Francisco on an unidentified date after 1950. She worked for the probation department in San Francisco until
declining health forced her into a rest home. Edna Smith de Nunzio died in San Francisco on May 25, 1985, less than a month
before her 80th birthday.