Mignon Nevada as Ophelia in Ambroise Thomas's opera, Hamlet, circa 1910.

Mignon Nevada (14 August 1886 – 25 June 1971) was an English operatic soprano. She was born in Paris, daughter of the American operatic soprano Emma Nevada and her English husband Raymond Palmer. She was named after the title character of the 1866 opera Mignon, written by her godfather, French composer Ambroise Thomas. Her voice was light and agile, and her mother trained her to be a coloratura soprano, although Sir Thomas Beecham thought this was a mistake, that she should have been a mezzo-soprano instead.[1][2][3]


Her debut was in February 1908 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome as Rosina in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia.[1] The New York Times reported that her mother's friends, Adelina Patti and Mary Garden travelled all the way to Rome just to attend Mignon's debut.[4] Her performances were so well received that she was engaged to sing eight more times beyond her original four performances. Her success led her mother to request an audience for Mignon with Pope Pius X. (Her mother had had an audience with Leo XIII ten years prior.)[5]

Mignon made other early appearances in Italy and Portugal[6] and then made her way to England where she appeared as Ophelia in Thomas' Hamlet under Thomas Beecham at the opening of the 1910 winter season at Covent Garden.[1] In 1917 she appeared as Desdemona in Verdi's Otello with Frank Mullings in the title role and Frederic Austin as Iago.[7] Beecham described her portrayal of Desdemona as "the best I have seen on any stage."[1] Her other roles in London included Olympia in Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni, and Marguerite in Gounod's Faust. Her last appearance there was in 1922.[1]

Other venues included the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 1920 (in the title role of Lakmé by Delibes and as Mimì in Puccini's La bohème),[8] La Scala in Milan in 1923, and the Opéra in Paris in 1932. She also appeared at the Royal Opera in Lisbon,[9] at the Aldwych Theatre in London, and with the Royal Philharmonic Society.[10]

Later in her career she became a vocal teacher. One of her students was Kyra Vayne.[11] She died in Long Melford.[1]


In 1938 Mignon Nevada made a recording of "Le Soir", a song by Ambroise Thomas which had been given its premiere by her mother. This is the only recording which she is known to have made.[1] It was first issued on a 12-inch 78 rpm record (International Record Collector's Club 118) with a spoken introduction by her mother[2] and reissued on LP ca. 1965 on the same label as part of a compilation (cat. no. IRCC L-7025). Raymond Ericson of The New York Times described her performance of it as quite charming.[12] The LP also included Schumann's Frauenliebe und Leben, sung by Julia Culp (1910); "Casta diva" from Bellini's Norma and "Non mi dir" from Mozart's Don Giovanni, both sung by Frieda Hempel; "Printemps qui commence" from Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila, sung by Kathleen Howard; "Regal in His Low Estate" from Goldmark's The Queen of Sheba, sung by Marie Rappold; and an aria from Massenet's Thaîs, a song by Bemberg, and two settings by Reynaldo Hahn of poems from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses, all sung by Mary Garden. All of the recordings date from 1910 to 1938.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Steane, J. B. (1992). "Nevada, Mignon" in Sadie, 3: 581.
  2. ^ a b Review of Mignon Nevada's recording of "Le Soir", Gramophone, June 1938, p. 18. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
  3. ^ Wilkins, Thurman (1971). "Nevada, Emma". In James, Edward T.; James, Janet Wilson; Boyer, Paul S. (eds.). Notable American Women, 1607–1950: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume 2. Harvard University Press. p. 618. ISBN 0-674-62734-2.
  4. ^ Marconi Transatlantic Wireless Telegraph to The New York Times (16 February 1908). "NOTABLES AT DEBUT OF MIGNON NEVADA; Mary Anderson and Patti Go to Hear Young American in "Barber of Seville." MOTHER A FAMOUS SINGER Daughter's First Appearance on the Stage Made a Social as Well as Musical Event in the Eternal City". New York Times. Rome.
  5. ^ Marconi Transatlantic Wireless Telegraph to The New York Times (15 March 1908). "MIGNON NEVADA A SUCCESS.; Has Scored Big Triumph in Rome as an Operatic Star". New York Times. Rome. p. C2.
  6. ^ Hughes, Edwin (August 1909). "American Singers in European Opera-Houses" World Today 17: 832.
  7. ^ The Musical Times, January to December 1917, Volume LVIII. London: Novello. 1917. p. 513.
  8. ^ The Musical Times, January to December 1920, Volume LXI. London: Novello. 1920. p. 778.
  9. ^ Hughes (1909), p. 832
  10. ^ Annual Register (1917), p. 143
  11. ^ Forbes, Elizabeth (2001). "Kyra Vane". The Independent, 15 January 2001. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  12. ^ Ericson, Raymond (1961). "Mendelssohn Songs Refound". The New York Times, 31 October 1965.