Elizabeth Anne McKnight
1924 - 2012   Class of 2008  Performing Arts
Born in 1924 in Oak Park, Illinois, Anne McKnight moved to Aurora with her family when she was an infant, and she subsequently attended West Aurora schools.  Her father was director of Williams F. Jobbins, Inc., an aluminum smelting plant on North Lake Street.  

Anne’s first singing teacher was her mother, and she gave concerts in the schools and churches of Aurora.  At Francis Shimer Junior College in Mount Carroll, Illinois, Anne received voice lessons from Mme. Gladys Gilderoy Scott.  Upon graduation, she was awarded a five-year fellowship to Juilliard’s Graduate School of Music in New York.  There she studied with the renowned baritone Evan Evans.  Anne and her husband, Frederick Rogosin of Boston, also a singer, both worked in Italy with Maestro Guiseppe Pais.

Anne McKnight made her operatic debut and first professional appearance at the age of 20, when she was selected by Arturo Toscanini from a field of 30 candidates to sing the role of Musetta in Puccini’s “La Boheme.”  Toscanini had conducted the world premiere of this opera in Turin, Italy, in 1896.  Toscanini again selected Anne to be his soprano for a performance in 1948 of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.  She joined a cast of Met regulars for the production, which was broadcast “live” across the U.S. by NBC and recorded for RCA.  It is currently available on DVD.

Her first successes came in the years after World War II on the big opera stages in Italy, where she was well-known as Anna de Cavalieri.  From 1953 through 1968, she sang either title or dominant roles in performances and at premieres, including “Turandot,” “Alceste,” “Pantea,” “Cyrano de Bergerac,” “Mefistofele,” “Lucrezia,” “Loreley,” “William Tell,” “Fedora,” “Norma,” and “Aida.”  Her repertoire included works by such renowned composers as Bellini, Gluck, Mozart, Puccini, Rossini, Strauss, Verdi, and Wagner.

The new star first sang professionally in the Chicago area at the Civic Opera House in March of 1946.  She traveled to Chatauqua, New York, that August to appear with its symphony before an audience of 10,000.  In the fall of 1946, Anne returned to Aurora for a guest appearance at the Women’s Club of Aurora, which was followed by performances in Pennsylvania, at Juilliard, and Carnegie Hall.  In 1960 Anne made a guest appearance in America under her actual name at the New York City Opera as Marschallin in Wagner’s “Rosenkavalier.”

While her greatest successes were in Italian houses, Anne also sang in the opera houses of Toulouse and Brussels.  She joined Howard Barlow and the International Harvester Orchestra (later Firestone Orchestra) for a radio broadcast of Puccini’s famous aria from “Tosca,” “Visi d’Arte.”  Nearly 30 recordings of her performances were produced between 1948 and 1964.

Once described as a "world-class diva," Anne McKnight performed all the significant roles in "Tosca," "Norma," "Feodora," and "Turandot."  World-famous musicians - Toscanini, Pelletier, Barlow, Leinsdorff, etc. - generously sang her praises. Thanks to the research of Florence Johnson and Jim Edwards, her brilliant career was appropriately honored by her induction into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame in 2008, and in a feature article published by The Beacon News entitled "Aurora's Forgotten Opera Star."

Elizabeth Anne McKnight spent the last decades of her life in Lugano, Switzerland. She passed away after a massive stroke at the age of 88 in 2012.
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 World-renowned opera singer  Chosen by Maestro Arturo To