Nell Rankin

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Nell Rankin (January 3, 1924 – January 13, 2005) was an American operatic mezzo-soprano. Although a successful opera singer internationally, she spent most of her career at the Metropolitan Opera where she worked from 1951-1976. Rankin was particularly admired for her portrayals of Amneris in Verdi's Aida and the title role in Bizet's Carmen. Opera News said, "Her full, generous tone and bold phrasing, especially in the Italian repertory, were unique among American mezzos of her generation.

Early life and education

Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Rankin was raised in a musical family. Along with her mother, father, sister and brother, Rankin grew up playing various musical instruments. She began performing at the age of four on the radio by singing for commercials. As a teenager she studied voice with Jeanne Lorraine at the Birmingham Conservatory. In order to pay for her lessons with Lorraine, Rankin rented the Huntingdon College pool and spent her summers teaching the children of Montgomery to swim. Helen Traubel visited the conservatory to perform a recital in 1943 while Rankin was a student. Determined to succeed in an opera career, Rankin went backstage and persuaded Ms. Traubel's accompanist, Coenraad Bos, to hear her sing. On Bos's advice, she moved to New York City to continue her studies with Karin Branzell. Her sister Ruth Rankin, a soprano...
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