FARMINGTON — The Emery Community Arts Center on the University of Maine at Farmington campus and the Nordica Memorial Association will present “Remembering Madame Nordica,” an exhibit of items from the personal collection of Madame Lillian Nordica, a Gilded Age operatic superstar and Farmington native.

The show will run from Saturday, Aug. 8, to Sunday, Aug. 23, in the Emery Community Arts Center Flex Gallery with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12. The opening will feature a reading of the recently-published book on Nordica titled “Lily of the North” by Jane Parker and Patricia Flint and illustrated by Luanne Wrenn along with musical accompaniment. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Born in Farmington in 1857, Nordica rose from her humble beginnings in Western Maine through talent, grit, glamour and smarts as the first American female opera singer to become an international household name. Though Nordica was renowned as a singer, fashion icon, pioneer for women on stage, suffragette, writer and model for the glamour of the Gilded Age, she held tightly to her Farmington roots and was proud to be from Maine.

Designed to refresh her memory and introduce Nordica’s remarkable story to a new generation, the show includes objects, photographs and an audiovisual presentation that tell the story of her life, career, travails, triumphs and untimely death.

Valued pieces in their own right, the objects in the exhibit are a testament to the singer. Collected in her travels throughout the world or given by adoring fans like Queen Victoria and the Empress of China, they showcase the many intriguing objects currently housed at the Nordica Homestead Museum, her birthplace and childhood home on the Holley Road in Farmington.

The exhibit also includes stage jewelry and costume items from Nordica’s various roles, photographs of her family and of Nordica in operatic roles, some of the earliest operatic recordings ever made — some by Thomas Edison himself — family furniture from her childhood home and Lillian Nordica Coca-Cola memorabilia.


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