Nell Rankin

Soloist, Mezzo-Soprano
She was born in Montgomery, Alabama on 3/1/1924. She studied voice with Jeanne Lorraine at the Birmingham Conservatory (Alabama). She continued her studies with Karin Branzell in New York, where she began her professional career in recital performances. Then came her operatic debut as Amneris in a production of Aida at the Salmaggi Opera Company in Brooklyn. She collaborated with the Zurich Opera House (1948-50) where she interpreted the role of Ortrud [Lohengrin]. The 1950 she joined Theater Basel, where she sang Delilah (Samson and Delilah / Samson et Dalila). That same year she was awarded the first prize at the Geneva International Music Competition. Thereafter she appeared in major opera houses around the world, standing out as Amneris and Carmen. In 1951 she performed for the first time at La Scala, singing Verdi's Requiem (conducted by Victor de Sabata), at the Vienna State Opera and at the Metropolitan Opera of New York. At the latter, she remained for 25 years (1951-76), interpreting numerous roles, such as Azucena [The Τroubadour / Il trovatore], Ulrica [A Masked Ball / Un ballo in maschera], Marina Mniszech [Boris Godunov], Laura Adorno [La Gioconda], etc. Next, she focused on teaching, giving lessons at the Academy of Vocal Arts (Philadelphia, 1977-84) as well as providing private tutoring in New York. She died in New York on 13/1/2005. Her repertoire also included the operas Gloriana by Britten and The Trojans [Les Troyens] by Berlioz. She made recordings (labels: Decca, DSW, UORC) and interpreted the lead role in a television production of Carmen (CBS, 1954). She collaborated with the GNO only once, interpreting the role of Delilah [Samson and Delilah] at performances in the context of the Athens Festival (Herodeion, 1959-60).