(1857-1914) was born on the family farm in Farmington as Lillian Bayard Norton. According to one observer, she was “America’s first and most glamorous opera singer to attain true international prominence.”
After the financial failure of the farm and, two years later, the tavern they bought, her family moved to Boston in 1864.
Eventually Lillian entered the New England Conservatory of Music where she studied for four years.
Before long she became a successful opera star and a leader of fashion. Nordica created the role of Elsa in Cosima Wagner’s first production of Lohengrin.
At the Metropolitan Opera in New York, she was easily the equal of the major performers of the time, including the great male vocalist Caruso.
An active supporter of women’s suffrage and equal educational opportunities for women, Nordica’s career was cut short by her death in a shipwreck in the South Seas on the eve of the First World War.
Glackens, Ira. Yankee Diva: Lillian Nordica and the Golden Days of Opera. New York: Coleridge Press. 1963.
Image of painting courtesy Maine State Museum