Cather Endnotes

 

 

Cather Prototypes

 

Mary Garden (prototype for Eden Bower in Coming, Aphrodite! and one of the prototypes for Kitty Ayshire in Scandal)

"Scottish American soprano Mary Garden, the prototype for Eden Bower..." Explanatory Notes p. 379, Youth and the Bright Medusa by Willa Cather, Willa Cather Scholarly Edition, University of Nebraska Press 2009

"See the Historical Essay (p.341) for an account of Mary Garden, the prototype for Eden Bower." ibid. p.385

 

Geraldine Farrar (one of the prototypes for Kitty Ayshire in Scandal and A Gold Slipper and interviewed by Cather for her article Three American Singers).

"Kitty Ayrshire: See the Historical Essay (pp. 339-43) for accounts of Geraldine Farra, Mary Garden, and Sibyl Sanderson, the prototypes for Kitty Ayrshire." ibid. p410

 

Lillian Nordica (prototype for Cressida Garnet in The Diamond Mine)

"See the Historical Essay (pp. 334-39) for an account of Lillian Nordica, the prototype for Cressida Garnet." ibid. p.395

 

Olive Fremstad (prototype for Thea Kronborg in The Song of the Lark and interviewed by Cather for her article Three American Singers)

 

Ernestine Schumann-Heink (prototype for "soprano soloist" in Paulís Case)

"soprano soloist: The protytpe is probably Austrian-Czech contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink (1861-1936), a singer Cather admired and knew personally. She heard Schumann-Heink sing Wagnerian opera in Pittsburgh in 1899 and reviewed her performance in the Lincoln Courier (10 June 1899). Like the singer in the story, she had many (six) children." ibid. p.425-426

 

Lucrezia Bori (prototype for "Spanish woman" in Scandal.

 

 

The following Cather prototypes with opera connections have also been identified by Cather scholars, however, no known recordings were ever made by any of these artists.

Katherine Fisk

(prototype for "a contralto" in A Death in the Desert): "This probably refers to contralto Katherine Fisk, who had an extraordinarily strong voice." ibid. Explanatory Notes, p. 450). Fisk sang with the Metropolitan Opera House circa 1900 and then toured the country with Lillian Nordica (cf. Chicago Tribune, June 29, 1926 Obituary). "In 1894 Willa Cather praised Fisk in a series of articles for the Lincoln Evening News. (cf. Cather, Willa (1970). The World and the Parish: Willa Cather's Articles and Reviews, 1893-1902, Volume 2. U of Nebraska Press. p. 640. Retrieved 2 February 2020." Wikipedia

In 1895 Cather said about her "She is great enough as a woman to become a great artist" (at the time Fisk was performing with Nellie Melba in England)." Wikipedia


Sibyl Sanderson, one of the prototypes for Kitty Ayrshire, made no recordings.

"Kitty Ayrshire: See the Historical Essay (pp. 339-43) for accounts of Geraldine Farra, Mary Garden, and Sibyl Sanderson, the prototypes for Kitty Ayrshire,Youth and the Bright Medusa by Willa Cather, Willa Cather Scholarly Edition, University of Nebraska Press 2009.