|Upon her graduation from a talent scholarship to Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Ms. Ealynn Voss attended the AIMS Institute in Graz, Austria where she received numerous grants from a variety of prestigious music foundations. A 1967 graduate from Elizabeth-Forward High School, Ms. Voss was honored with induction into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1998 as the “first professional musician who aspired to international fame.” On a world-class note, her inclusion into the International Who’s Who in Music was documented in 1996.
Ms. Voss has studied and performed collaborative achievements with renowned artists such as Giorgio Tozzi, Robert Rodgers, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Leonie Rysanek, as well as Birgit Nilsson and countless notable others. It was, however, quite a journey between leaving the South Hills of Pennsylvania and arriving on stage as a professional diva.
After her studies abroad, Ms. Voss moved to California upon an invitation to pursue graduate studies at UCLA. As her education continued, she supported herself by obtaining employment as a governess. Though it seems like a familiar backdrop for a musical production romance, the hills of Hollywood held no widowed Baron with six children to care for or fall in love with. Instead, Ms. Voss found herself caring for three children of an affluent couple in Malibu. “It was a far cry from what I was trained to do as a musician and a long way from home.” However, Ms. Voss also remained faithful to the perfection of her voice.
It was during that time when she first met Monte and Giorgio Tozzi. “You have to grow into your voice,” was the encouragement that she received from the masters. It was to be a long gestation indeed – one that lasted for almost 15 years. “Of course there were occasional youthful bouts of discouragement when I wondered if it was all for not. My parents, children of German immigrants, instilled their great faith of me in devotion of my talents.” She affectionately speaks of her father, Bernard, “My father worked for US Steel, Clairton Works. Our affection for one another was classic pure bred daddy’s little girl. He never lived to see my greatest achievements and yet he had everything to do with them; his encouragement was never far from my heart.”
Ms. Voss’s twenty-year career spans the globe, five continents, and numerous acclaimed opera houses and concert halls therein. She performed her legendary interpretation of the title role in Puccini’s Turandot from New York to Australia to Japan and every noteworthy opera house in between. In continuance, Ms. Voss’s success also encompassed the lead heroine roles of Verdi, Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner operas.
It was after a performance of Elektra that she met her husband, Amadeo Altene.“He was in the audience as an esteemed guest. He was a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic as fourth-chair violinist and was invited to the performance via a mutual friend.” Ms. Voss and Amadeo connected on a level that was supremely abiding. Shortly after their two-year courtship, Amadeo was diagnosed with leukemia in 1991. Determined to savor whatever time was allotted, the coupled married. After eleven precious months, just shy of their one-year wedding anniversary, Amadeo quietly passed away. Their romance and tragedy paralleled the passionate epics that Ms. Voss triumphed in as a performer. In a scheduled performance of Ariadne, just nine days after Amadeo’s death, Ms. Voss poignantly recalls, “In honor of Amadeo, my husband’s doctors and nurses were in attendance of that performance. The lament in my voice was deeply moving to critics, yet only a few truly understood the depths to which ‘my threnody’ was played out that night. It was my own heralding tribute to my late husband, both celebrated and released in the most honorable way that I knew of.”
With a heavy heart, her schedule resumed and Ms. Voss pressed on until 1997, when she became confronted with yet another battle – Ms. Voss was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully, early detection gave her and her doctors great hope. She took a year off to recuperate and has been cancer-free since. She returned to the stage in September of 1998 and toured until her retirement in 2000.
“Rest assured, the adventure never stops,” she nods to herself in affirmation, “Life itself longs to make of us all, ‘well-seasoned survivors.’” Ms. Voss then holds the moment in silence with solemn and steadfast grace that always seems to precede a note of wisdom. She speaks, “In love, with Amadeo, I have had more than most folks I know who have had years together. As a performer, and a late bloomer, I have made ‘my mark’ that many master critics still view as unsurpassed. There are those who would like for me to teach or come out of retirement, and I may down the road… For now, I feel blessed to have come full circle: to return to my roots, my home here in the South Hills, and celebrate it all with my dear mother.” Her eyes now lighten and dance merrily as she smiles and glances at her mother. She then slyly grins as if energized by the rekindling of her own adventures, shrugs her shoulders and adds, “Another swash buckling chapter may be in the works for me – who knows? After what I have lived so far, it wouldn’t surprise me!”
In retrospect, Ms. Voss’s musical success and often beaten life adventures were the collaboration of charisma and ultimate destiny that began to unveil itself in her childhood years. Her mother Jewel, who simply refers to Ealynn as Lynn, explains, “She displayed at a very early age a natural flare for the dramatic. I first recognized that Lynn had something special when she was 8-years old. I attended a school Christmas performance in which Lynn had a relatively small part. I was sitting there among the other parents when the principal came on stage to announce that the scheduled solo performer had declined to sing due to a sudden case of stage-freight and that another classmate, Ealynn Voss, had volunteered to take her place! As I watched my daughter take center stage, I sat there stunned wondering ‘what in the world was she going to do?’ Then of course, Lynn, being Lynn, only added amazement to my amazement by what she did next. As the teacher began to play the piano intro, Lynn unabashedly holds up her hand and says, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not ready!’ Then, after taking a moment to compose herself, she gave the teacher-accompanist the nod and sang beautifully flawless her own rendition of Silent Night!” Ms. Voss chuckles at her mother’s account, “Of course, unbeknownst to us all at the time, as a fledgling diva, a ‘Silent Night’ proved to be the last thing that God had in mind for this gal!”
From an article written by: Janice Milner
|Buffs Performance(s):||2/18/90, 7/17/88|
Opera Choruses (Various)