Skip to main content

Mason, Edith, 1893-1973



  • Existence: 1893 - 1973


American soprano Edith Mason was born in St. Louis, Missouri, as Edith Barnes. She studied in Europe with Enrico Bertrand and Victor Maurel before enrolling at the New England Conservatory in Boston. A last-minute substitute performance of Nedda in Pagliacci at the Boston Opera served as her debut, in 1912, and launched her career. Her Metropolitan debut was as Sophie in Rosenkavalier in 1915, and debuted in the title role of Madama Butterfly at the Chicago Opera in 1921. Voice teachers and coaches during this time included Edmond Clément and Alexander Smallens. Mason was a fixture on the Chicago opera scene during the 1920s and 1930s, as well as performing in New York and Europe (La Scala under Toscanini, and the Salzburg Festival, among others). She also toured with the Chicago Opera and performed both art song and concert repertoire. After her performing career ended in 1942, she lectured and taught at DePaul University, giving her costume collection to Northwestern's School of Music in 1964.

Edith married Norman Mason in 1913, taking his name professionally, though they soon separated. In 1919, Edith married conductor Giorgio Polacco and had a daughter, Graziella, in 1925. After divorcing Polacco in 1929, Mason married Dr. Maurice A. Bernstein of Chicago, only to annul the marriage in 1930 and re-marry Polacco in 1931. Mason and Polacco divorced again in 1937 but remained friendly until Polacco's death in 1960. Mason and William E. Ragland, Chicago broker, married in 1937 and split their time between Chicago and their estate, Villa Graziella, in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Edith Mason died at her home in San Diego in 1973.

Aside from Butterfly, other popular roles for Edith Mason were Mimì (Bohême), Micaela (Carmen), Marguérite (Faust), Manon (Manon), Lady Harriet (Martha), Margherita (Mefistofele), Juliette (Roméo et Juliette), and Violetta (Traviata). Song recitals often included selections by Debussy, Brahms and Strauss.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Edith Mason Collection

Identifier: Mason

Edith Mason was an American soprano whose performing career, primarily in opera, spanned the late 1910s through early 1940s. The collection includes photographs, clippings, programs and musical scores, as well as recordings and costumes.

Dates: 1910-1974