Minnie Hauk

16 Nov 1851
6 Feb 1929
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Amalia Mignon “Minnie” Hauck (November 16, 1851 – February 6, 1929) was an American operatic soprano.

She was born in New York City, the only child of James Hauck, a German carpenter, and his American wife. Soon after Minnie’s birth the Haucks moved to Providence, Rhode Island, and then to Sumner, Kansas in 1857. It was later rumoured that Hauk was the daughter of the financier Leonard Jerome, who was a devotee of the opera.

Jerome’s daughter, Jennie, to whom some have suggested Hauk bore a resemblance, married the British politician Lord Randolph Churchill and was the mother of the great British war leader Winston Churchill.

In 1862, Hauk began vocal studies with Achille Errani, who secured her a spot with the Max Maretzek Italian Opera Company. At age fourteen she made her debut in Brooklyn as Amina in La sonnambula, and a month later, in November, 1866, her New York City debut as Prascovia in L’étoile du nord.

In the American premiere of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (1867) she sang Juliette. Hauk sang at Covent Garden, London, on 26 October 1868, and debuted in Paris in 1869.

The soprano then appeared in Italian and German opera at the Grand Opera in Vienna and other venues throughout Europe.

Hauk performed the role Carmen at the opera’s British and American premieres in 1878, and Manon at its American premiere in 1885.

Her voice became a mezzo-soprano of great strength and depth. Hauk’s enormous repertory included approximately one hundred roles, and she sang Carmen in four languages.

In 1881 she married Ernst von Hesse-Wartegg, the Austrian writer and traveller. Much of Hauk’s fortune was lost during World War I. By 1918 she was impoverished and nearly blind. Hauk died at her home near Lucerne, Switzerland in 1929.

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