- Helen Jepson
Helen Jepson was an American
lyric sopranonoted for being a "stunning blond beauty" [ [http://www.britannica.com/eb/topic-302661/Helen-Jepson Helen Jepson (American singer) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia ] ] as well as for her voice.
She was born in
Titusville, Pennsylvaniaon November 28, 1904and raised in Akron, Ohio, where she studied voice performed in high school operatic productions. She attended the Curtis Institutein Philadelphiaon scholarship and there sang with the Philadelphia Civic Operaand formed a four singer group called "The Mississippi Misses", traveling "6,000 miles in 12 weeks giving concerts in 87 towns." [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19970924/ai_n14131232 Obituary: Helen Jepson | Independent, The (London) | Find Articles at BNET.com ] ]
Her professional success accelerated in Philadelphia leading to a move to New York with her husband,
Her career in radio began in 1933 with a performance with the
Hamburger Symphony Orchestraconducted by Philip James. The broadcast was only local to New Jersey. She would later perform on the radio with bandleaders Paul Whitemanand Rudy Valleealso. She was selected as Most Important New Air Personality of 1934."
Her radio broadcasts attracted the attention of the
Metropolitan Operaand her debut there was in John Laurence Seymour's one-act opera " In the Pasha's Garden". Her husband would also find work at the Met.
Jepson sung as lead soprano with the Metropolitan Opera from 1935 to 1941. Some of her best known roles while at the Met include Desdemona in "Othello" and Marguerite in "Faust". The "Faust" recording is still in print [http://www.infoplease.com/ipea/A0763028.html] , as is her recording of "
Porgy and Bess"; she was the first soprano to record in that role, and the extant recording of her was supervised by Gershwin himself. [Kozinn, Allan. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A07E3DA1E38F93AA2575AC0A961958260&scp=1&sq=%22Helen+Jepson%22 "Helen Jepson, 92, a Soprano At the Met in the 30's and 40's"] , " The New York Times", September 19, 1997. Accessed January 8, 2008. "She was the first soprano to record the female lead in Gershwin's " Porgy and Bess," and she sang popular songs with Paul Whiteman, the band leader, on his radio show."] [ [http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=4995 Gershwin Plays Gershwin - Rhapsody In Blue, Etc / Whiteman | ArkivMusic ] ]
Jepson's attempt to move into Hollywood was unsuccessful, although it did expose her to wider audiences. Her only film role was 1938's unsuccessful
The Goldwyn Follies, in which she sang "The Brindisi" from Verdi's " La Traviata", Enrico Toselli's "La Serenata", the Gershwins' "Love Walked In", and "Sempre Libre". Paramount offered her further work, but as filmed opera never proved successful, the deal never came to fruition.
Later on Helen Jepson and George Poselle were divorced and she married Walter Dellera, son of Ricardo Dellera, a conductor and voice coach for the Metropolitan Opera. Jepson then became a a resident of
Closter, New Jersey. She and Walter had one son, Ricardo (Rick) Dellera who passed away in 2006.
In later life, Jepson attended Seton Hall University and acquired a degree in speeach therapy. She worked for the school district in Monmouth County, New Jersey as a speech therapist for children. When she retired she and Walter Dellera moved to Bradenton, Florida where she was very active with the Bradenton Opera Guild.
Jepson's popularity was in large part born of simply being an American in a field flooded with European talent, but her talent and populism was also strongly connected to her great talent. She died in
Bradenton, Floridaon September 16, 1997.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.