Thursday, December 4, 2014

Isabella Grant -- The Daughter of Kentucky

Grant, known on the German opera stage as "Belle Applegate," reached the pinnacle of her fame in 1909 when she became the mezzo soprano of the Stadt Theatre in Cologne.  Once the toast of European opera houses, the diva's popularity waned throughout the war that claimed her husband.  Returning to her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, Grant continued to perform in "tribute concerts," but longed to return to the world of grand opera.  On September 1, 1928, Grant traveled to the Windy City to audition for a small role with the Chicago Civic Opera.  Becoming ill with high blood pressure in her room at the YWCA, the fiftyish singer was forced to enter the charity ward at St. Luke's Hospital, but pride prevented her from obtaining treatment.

On October 19, 1928, the former opera great was found near death in her room at the Evanston Hotel in that city from an overdose of poison.  She died at the Psychopathic Hospital.  Grant left seven notes.  In one, addressed to the manager of the YWCA, she wrote:  "The fates have played with me as if I were a wornout football and I can stand it no more.  I did so want to sing for Mr. Johnson of the Civic Opera, and I would not have been brought to this extremity if I could have waited until I had the audition, but what difference does it make anyhow?  Even the Lincolns and Bismarcks and Napoleons are forgotten....I can't help my deed -- I am at the end of my rope.  I long for peace -- peace -- you do not realize how I long for it.  A small voice is whispering to me to go ahead and take my sleep.  I am tired.  Bless you dear friends.  The end of an opera star.  My blood be upon America for her treatment of the daughter of Kentucky pathfinders."

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