By: Connor Lutts
Imagine Green Spring Valley overlooking the Greenspring campus of Stevenson University with the sun shining brightly on both. Many students enter campus quickly each day, surrendering, not noticing the grand Italian-style mansion directly across from it, let alone the great history that goes with it.
This house was once the residence of Rosa Ponselle; she called it “Villa Pace”.
Ponselle built her home in the 1940s when she retired to the Green Spring Valley area. The Villa Pace was “Tuscan” in style, the Johns Hopkins researchers wrote, “with smooth stucco, a red-tiled roof, ornate ironwork, massive windows, and high ceilings.”
The architecture of Villa Pace also had another surprise; it “was built in the shape of a cross both for religious reasons and to allow excellent ventilation and separation between the wings of the house.”
Rosa Ponselle was a world-renowned opera singer in the 1920s and 1930s. She grew up in a working-class Italian family in western Connecticut. His career began on the Bonville stage in New York in 1910. Having no experience of opera before his career, Ponselle nevertheless worked with the great Enrico Caruso. It was a fateful coupling. Caruso was taken by her voice and arranged an audition for her at the Met. After that they often worked together as costars
According to Matt Testa, curator of the Rosa Ponselle collection at the Peabody Institute, her fame rose when she auditioned with her sister, Carmela Ponselle, at the Bonville Stage in New York in 1910. She worked with the Metropolitan Opera in September. producing for 20 years together with other enterprises.
In her personal life, Ponselle married Carle Jackson, the son of Baltimore Mayor Howard W. Jackson, then later divorced. She never remarried. Instead, she dedicated the rest of her life to sharing her love of music with the youth of the world.
Ponselle died in 1981, still a dominant presence in the opera world. Although she no longer lives in her ornate home, she still sits on a hill in the Green Spring Valley, overlooking Stevenson’s original campus.