Canada's first internationally famous singer, soprano Emma Albani, was born Marie Louise Emma Cécile Lajeunesse in Chambly, south of Montreal, in 1847. Her prodigious musical talent appeared very early and was fostered and meticulously trained by her parents, both excellent musicians. She was eventually sent to Europe to study voice with the best masters. When Albani was running out of funds in Milan, her teacher, Lamperti, arranged for her debut in the title role of "La Sonnambula", one of the most difficult operas for sopranos. The locale chosen was Messina in Sicily, the opera fans there being so exacting that any success would clearly demonstrate her talent. Her success was instantaneous. Astonished by her impeccable musicianship and captivated by her glorious voice, the audience, according to a contemporary account, went into a frenzy of shouts, applause and curtain calls. Albani went on to greater and greater triumphs. The world's opera houses vied for her; famous composers created works for her; she sang in the royal courts of Europe and was a special favourite of Queen Victoria's. At her retirement, Albani was living in England where she died in 1930. The portrait of Emma Albani used on this commemorative stamp was painted by Toronto artist Huntley Brown: Albani is posed in costume as Violetta in "La Traviata".
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