Kate Rolla

Kate Rolla (1894)

[Born Wheeling, West Virginia 1865, died Paris Jan 1926]

Soprano Kate Rolla, whose real name was Katherine Wheat, studied singing in Paris, and made her operatic debut in Milan in the title role in Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix. After appearing in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Berlin, and many of the larger cities in Italy, she returned to the British Isles, performing with the Mapleson Opera Company in Dublin in 1887 before making her London debut in 1888 as Donna Elvira in Mozart's Don Giovanni at Covent Garden in May 1888.

She returned to Covent Garden in 1891, appearing as Michaela in Carmen, Bertha in La Prophete, and Donna Elvira again between April and July. She then traveled to New York where she appeared primarily in concert, but also as Donna Elvira again, between 1892 and 1894, before returning to England.

When D'Oyly Carte restaged Mirette at the Savoy on October 6, 1894, the plan was that Maud Ellicott would remain in the title role. When Miss Ellicott abruptly withdrew, Carte engaged Kate Rolla. She was not well received by the press, which felt her unsuited to the role ("a heavy prima donna should not be put into a light part" wrote one, typically), and she was obliged to abandon the part in little more than a week. It was her only engagement with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

Nothing is known of her subsequent career, although one suspects it was confined to the concert stage.

Page created August 27, 2001 © 2001 David Stone