Béatrice La Palme

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Béatrice La Palme

Marie Anne Béatrice Alice La Palme, also Marie Anne Béatrix Alice La Palme (b. July 27, 1878 in Belœil; † January 8, 1921 in Montreal) was a Canadian opera singer (soprano), violinist and music educator.


La Palme had music lessons with Alexis Contant and was a violin pupil of Charles Lejeune and Frantz Jehin-Prume, making her first public appearance in 1894 with accompanist Joseph Saucier. The first winner of the Strathcona Scholarship, she traveled to London the following year and continued her training there with Enrique Fernández Arbós. She also took singing lessons with Gustave García and made her first appearance as a singer at a Royal Conservatory concert in 1898. On the advice of Emma Albani she then concentrated on her singing career and studied in London with Nelly Rowe, a pupil of Mathilde Marchesi.

In Paris she sang before Jules Massenet, who was impressed and declared that she had managed to move him to tears with his own music. In 1902 she gave a concert in Montreal with the accompanist Bernadette Dufresne. In 1903 she substituted at short notice for Fritzi Scheff at Covent Garden Opera as Musetta in a gala performance of La Bohème before Edward VII. Her partners in this performance were Nellie Melba, Alessandro Bonci, Antonio Scotti, Marcel Journet, Charles Gilibert and Eugène Dufriche. In the 1903-04 season she performed in Lyon, in the summer of 1904 in Royan, and from 1905 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. There she met the tenor Salvator Issaurel, whom she married in 1908.

In the summer of 1909 La Palme appeared as a member of the Moody-Manners Company at the Lyric Theatre in London, the following year Thomas Beecham brought her to His Majesty’s Theatre. She followed him to Covent Garden Opera in the autumn of that year. In 1911 she gave two concerts as a lieder singer at the Aeolian Hall.

In July 1911 La Palme returned with her husband to Montreal, where she gave a concert at the Monument National and then joined the Montreal Opera Company founded by Frank Stephen Meighen and Albert Clerk-Jeannotte, of which she was a member until its dissolution in 1913. In November 1913 she transferred to the Century Opera House in New York. Due to health problems and the uncertain situation brought on by the outbreak of World War I, she returned to Montreal at the end of 1914. There she devoted the last years of her life to teaching. Among her pupils were Camille Bernard, Marie-Anne Couture, Graziella Dumaine and Flora Contant. She gave her farewell concert with her husband at Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montreal on November 14, 1919. Shortly thereafter, she fell ill and died in early 1921 at the age of only 43.

La Palme mastered an extensive repertoire ranging from Gluck and Mozart, Massenet, Donizetti, Verdi and Wager to Eugène d’Albert, Jean Nouguès and Wolf-Ferrari, as well as works by operetta composers such as Adolphe Adam, Jacques Offenbach and George H. Clutsam. She was considered the most successful Canadian singer alongside Emma Albani.