News and Features

This Week In Texas Music History: Josephine Lucchese Makes Her Operatic Debut

Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet an opera singer who pulled herself up by her own bootstraps.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.

  • Click the player to listen to the podcast:

On Sept. 22, 1920, Josephine Lucchese made her operatic debut. Born in 1893 into San Antonio’s famous Lucchese boot-making family, she learned mandolin at 6 and piano at 10 before starting vocal training at 15. In 1911, she moved to New York, where she made her public debut in 1920. Her career quickly took off, and audiences began flocking to hear her perform in the Barber of Seville and other classic operas.

Josephine Lucchese was a trailblazer, in part because she was one of the few successful opera singers at that time who was not trained in Europe. Eventually, Lucchese moved to Austin, where she taught at the University of Texas from 1956 to 1968. She died in San Antonio in 1974.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a man with a voice as big as Texas.