|The Encyclopedia Brittannica said that Clara Louise Kellogg was, "the first native American prima donna and the first to achieve success in Europe." However, few people know that she spent her formative years in Derby. Though she was born in Sumterville, South Carolina, she and her parents lived in Derby during her early years. By the age of 14, her talents were obvious and she was studying music formally and had made her New York debut before the age of 20.|
After building an American operatic career, she moved on to Europe and opened in London in 1867. Her career reached its zenith with a triumphal tour of Russia in 1880 and 1881. She was also noted in the United States for her work in organizing her own company which presented operatic performances in English.
She returned to Derby in 1885 for a short visit staying at the Bassett House in Derby. Newspaper reports at the time spoke of a concert that she was to give in appreciation for her time in Derby. Ironically, the site was listed as the Ansonia Opera House! The Sterling Opera House did not yet exist. Though we could not find the record of that concert actually taking place, we do know that she played for a smaller group of people at a reception held at the Bassett House.
She retired in 1887 and she died in New Hartford in 1916. Before her death, she published Memoirs of an American Prima Donna. (Click here to read some of it! You can also still buy it from Amazon and other on-line booksellers. )
Our thanks to Randy Ritter for suggesting this quiz!
Correct answers were received from: Joan Driscoll, Marsha Pettingill, Markanthony Izzo, Mayor Marc J. Garofalo, Dave Joel, Gary Lungarini, Gene Wajdowicz, Dominick Thomas, Paul Comkowycz, Ben Jones, Henry Wajdowicz, Dave Petz, Robert Loftus, Vinny Minardi, Kimberly Shelton, Jack Skelding, Millie from Ansonia, and Jay Decho.