How Opera Divas Changed The World! Why we always needed a DIVA Museum

How did a company of women, trained within their singing families, rise from nowhere to reign internationally as “Queens of Song”—inspiring great composers, commanding vast audiences and fees, and changing the course of history?

From 1700 to 1920, “Queens of Song” were as well-known in the Western World as royal queens.

Yet the great opera divas rose from obscurity and humble backgrounds.

They seized opportunities offered by Music and Art to make charismatic careers of extraordinary triumph.

More than women who inherited or married monarchy, great opera divas rose through their own merit, wit, and ambition to stand in the vanguard of history —

-- brilliant beacons of women’s achievement in a world systematically stacked against them.

Their unparalleled prominence made them symbols and groundbreakers in Western women’s efforts to achieve careers, own property, and vote.

Their cultural mission accomplished, these bold goddesses passed into eternity.

Yet the heavens listened as the divas sang their captivating songs . . .

. . . and music and women’s history are immeasurably richer for their triumphant lives.

"The heavens listened as she sang that captivating song, the eternal echo of which resounds in my heart!" "Tales of Hoffmann," Act I, Scene 6.

DIVA Museum is dedicated to all who taught me to love opera and art.

15 of 26 DIVA Museum divas in order of appearance above: Henriette Sontag, Sissieretta Jones, Adelina Patti, Geraldine Farrar, Giulia Grisi, Isabella Colbran, Pauline Garcia Viardot, Lillian Nordica, Marie Selika, Zhemchugova/Parasha Kuznetova, Nellie Melba, Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient, Lina Cavalieri, Emma Calvé, Maria Malibran. Public domain photos and paintings.

Text above originally published by DIVA Museum in 2014 as Introduction to "A Diva Story-Book, 1700-1920"; republished digitally here in 2018. ©Text Kathleen McDermott, please credit.

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