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Durham Historical Society

Annie Louise Cary, ca. 1870

Contributed by Durham Historical Society
MMN Item 15644 Item Details
Annie Louise Cary, ca. 1870
MMN Item 15644 Zoom


Born in Wayne but brought up in Durham from a young age, Annie Louise Cary went on to become a world-famous opera singer. The youngest child of six of Dr. Nelson Howard Cary and his first wife, Maria Stockbridge, Cary came from a highly musical family. "Annie Louise Cary's Father's Family," a New York Times article from 1882, notes that Annie's older brothers and sisters all had fine singing voices, and Dr. Cary himself was a "noted bass singer." The article reports that "when the Cary family came to Durham they created a great increase in the musical interest of the town. Durham was then the pinnacle of musical fame."

Cary attended the female seminary in Gorham in 1862 and once her vocal gifts became apparent, went on to study in Milan, Italy under the direction of Giovanni Corsi. She made her debut in Italian opera as a contralto in Copenhagen in 1868. Cary later sang with the Royal Swedish Opera, studied in Paris and London, and was constantly engaged for opera or concerts in Europe or America with a variety of companies until the early 1880s. In 1882, she married Charles Monson Raymond and settled into retirement, only performing for charity or private functions. At that time, she was one of the most popular singers in the United States.

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