(19 Nov 1902 - 1979)
"I remember knowing that Aunt Anna was an opera singer,
but the family was always very modest about that. I
remember Aunt Anna's penthouse apartment in Palm
Beach. The dining room and painted oriental
mural on the wall. And as a young woman I did not
really appreciate her dressing room very much, but now
I understand just how fantastic is was. A large
mirrored room with a bench in the middle, and the
mirrors were doors leading to closets!"
"I heard stories of what a wonderful cook she was, but
at that time, her daughters would no longer let her
".... (I believe Anna lived in the penthouse . . . on Sutton Place)."
Turkel Over Pashas
Monday, Feb. 23, 1931 Article ToolsPrintEmail The audience which gathered at the Royal Opera House in Cairo one night last week had the feeling that nothing which happened on the stage would be any more exciting than the sight of Prime Minister Ismail Sidky Pasha sitting in his box glowering at Former Prime Minister Mustafa Nahas Pasha, his bitterest political enemy, in a box just opposite. The opera was A?da, a particularly old story for Cairo. Years ago, Khedive Ismail Pasha, swollen over the success of the new Suez Canal, had commissioned Verdi to write it for the opening of that same opera house. The tunes, familiar as the Nile settings, promised no great excitement.
Then the curtain went up and soon A?da, the slave girl, started to sing. Immediately the audience forgot its hostile pashas, thought only of her. After the act she was cheered, and called back a dozen times. So excited was U. S. Minister William M. Jardine that he violated a sacred tradition of the opera house, went back stage to congratulate her. Minister Jardine knew something of her story. Though her immigrant parents had shaken their heads, Anna Turkel had left her home and the seven younger Turkels in Woonsocket. R. I., had gone to Manhattan with a nebulous notion of studying singing. To pay for her living she got a job as candy clerk in the Metropolitan Opera House. During the acts she would sneak downstairs to listen to Ponselle, Bori, Jeritza. Now, a group of Manhattanites* are financing her for three years abroad.
* Among them: Mrs. Frederick Brown, wife of the Manhattan realtor, Mrs. Ralph Jonas, wife of Director Jonas of Manufacturers' Trust Co. of New York, Banker Jules Bache, Board Chairman Ludwig Vogelstein of American Metal Co., Banker Lewis Strauss of Manhattan.
Turkel Tribe website: http://turkel.org.il/FAMOUS/Anna.htm
DeathAnna Turkel, an American soprano who made her opera debut in Genoa in 1930 and sang later with opera companies in Rome, Cairo and Chicago, died of cancer Tuesday in Palm Beach, Fla., where she had lived for the last two years. She was in her mid‐70's.
Miss Turkel, who was born in Woonsocket, R.I., was still in her teens when she and her family moved to New York so that she could study singing. She got a job as a candy‐seller at the Metropolitan Opera House and kept the job for four or five years, during which time she immersed herself in opera by watching all the company's performances.
In time, she came to the attention of some opera patrons who, in 1928, helped her go to Italy for further study. By that time she had made her New York recital debut at Town Hall. In the late 1940's, she made two more Town Hall recital appearances. In more recent years, she had taught singing here in New York. .
Miss Turkel is survived by her husband, Ray Porte, and four sisters and three brothers.
Source: New York Times - August 17, 1979, Section A, Page 15
1. Ancestry.com, New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 (Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010), Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 21; Page Number: 45.
2. Census 1920.