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Marjorie Lawrence papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Adminstrative Information

Detailed Description





Awards and Certificates

SIU Material

Financial Matters

Music Scores


Printed Matter


Bound Music Scores

Free Standing Volumes


Other materials

Marjorie Lawrence papers, 1926-1977 | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

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Collection Overview

Title: Marjorie Lawrence papers, 1926-1977Add to your cart.

ID: 1/3/MSS 127

Primary Creator: Lawrence, Marjorie

Extent: 98.0 Boxes

Arrangement: Arranged in eight series: (1) Correspondence, (2) Correspondence: Diaries, (3) Manuscripts, (4) Awards and certificates, (5) SIU material, (6) Financial matters, (7) Bound Music Scores, (8) Free standing volumes.

Date Acquired: 00/00/1975

Subjects: Lawrence, Marjorie., Opera, Sheet music, Southern Illinois University Summer Opera Workshop.

Forms of Material: Audiocassettes, Correspondence., Diaries., Manuscripts for publication., Photographs, Scrapbooks, Songs and music.

Languages: English, French, German, Italian

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Lawrence Papers consists largely of correspondence, programs, and memorabilia documenting the impressive singing career of Marjorie Lawrence, as well as production material from the Opera Theatre documenting her influential teaching career. Also of note in the collection are manuscript versions of Interrupted Melody, numerous music scores, and taped performances of Lawrence as well as the Opera Theatre and her Southern Illinois University Summer Opera Workshop. There is a separate extensive photograph collection of images documenting Marjorie Lawrence and her stage career.  Although the inclusive dates of the collection are 1926 to 1977, the early records are scanty because some materials were lost in Paris during World War II.

Biographical Note

Marjorie Lawrence (February 17, 1907 - January 13, 1979) was an Australian soprano, particularly noted as an interpreter of Richard Wagner's operas. She later served on the faculty of the School of Music at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Lawrence was born at Deans Marsh, south of Winchelsea, Victoria. She won a number of vocal competitions when aged in her teens. In 1932 she made her operatic debut in Monte Carlo as Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhäuser. On 25 February 1933, she made her first appearance at the Opera Garnier in Paris, playing Ortrud in Lohengrin.

Lawrence's physicality and beauty made her popular with audiences and she danced the Dance of the Seven Veils in Richard Strauss's Salome more convincingly than most other sopranos.

On 29 March 1941, at New York City's City Hall, she married Dr. Thomas King, an osteopath and Christian Scientist.

In 1941, in Mexico, Lawrence discovered that she had polio, and was left in a wheelchair as a result. During World War II, she performed in charity concerts in Australia, seated in a chair. A performance as Amneris in Giuseppe Verdi's Aida in Paris in 1946 was well received, but Lawrence retreated from the stage, and instead began to work as a teacher. She retired to her ranch, Harmony Hills, in Hot Springs Arkansas where she taught international students until her death in 1979.

Although best known for her Wagnerian interpretations, Lawrence played in a range of other works, including Salome and Georges Bizet's Carmen. She made a number of excellent recordings, mainly of works by Wagner.

In 1949, Lawrence wrote her autobiography Interrupted Melody. In 1955, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a film based on her book, Interrupted Melody, starring Eleanor Parker as Lawrence; Parker mimed the voice of Eileen Farrell.

Subject/Index Terms

Lawrence, Marjorie.
Sheet music
Southern Illinois University Summer Opera Workshop.

Administrative Information

Repository: Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Access Restrictions: Unrestricted access.

Use Restrictions: To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the World Wide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright.  Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult Special Collections Research Center to determine copyright holders for information in this collection.  Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.

Physical Access Note: Due to preservation concerns, researchers are required to use digital copies of sound recordings.

Acquisition Source: Gift

Related Materials: Photographs are located in PH 01 Marjorie Lawrence photograph collection

Preferred Citation: [Item], Majorie Lawrence papers, Special Collections Research Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence],
[Series 2: Programs],
[Series 3: Publicity],
[Series 4: Manuscripts],
[Series 5: Awards and Certificates],
[Series 6: SIU Material],
[Series 7: Financial Matters],
[Series 8: Music Scores],
[Series 9: Audiotapes],
[Series 10: Printed Matter],
[Series 11: Newsclippings],
[Series 12: Bound Music Scores],
[Series 13: Free Standing Volumes],
[Series 14: Packages],
[Series 15: Other materials],

Series 15: Other materialsAdd to your cart.

Memboralia and Recodings 1929-1980

Marjorie Lawrence and Southern Illinois University students scenes from Aida , Der Elbony and Waltzing Matilida (78 rpm)

Marjorie Lawrence multiple arias (78 rpm) Audiodisc private compilation of Arias from Madame Butterfly Immolation Scene , Ma Cover/ Samson and Delilah/ Zuignung (Strauss) and Waltzing Matilida

Marjorie Lawrence, soprano multiple arias - Unique Opera Records private (33 1/3) recorded 1929-1944: 1. Die Walkure Act 3, Brunhilde's Supplication/ Die Gotterdammerung Act 3, Brunnhilde's Immolation (in French)/ La Juive/ Don Carlos, O Don Fatale/ In Questa tomba oscura/ None But The Lonely Heart (in English)/ Loch Lomond (in Scottish)

The Golden Age of Opera: Carmen Act 11 with ML et al incl Ezio Pinza (33 1/3 rpm) private record, recorded November 2, l940

Carmen Act 3 and 4 (33 1/3 rpm) Unique Opera Records, private, recorded 1940 (record warped except for last half of Act 3)

Interrupted Melody (78 rpm) - Cue Recordings private label (Note:  A love story that ML wrote and sang to her husband)

Marjorie Lawrence sings (45 rpm) Camden/RCA commercial sale Australian and Scottish folksongs (Danny Boy, Doun the Burn, Annie Laurie, My Ain Folk)

Doun the Burn/My Ain Folk with Marjorie Lawrence, soprano (from the New Scottish Orpheus - volume 1) RCA (78 rpm) non-commercial; undated

Box 96Add to your cart.
Folder 1: MemorabiliaAdd to your cart.
Box 97Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Materials received July 20, 1977 from Marjorie LawrenceAdd to your cart.

TLS (Xerox), Nov. 10, 1976, from Malcolm Fraser to Miss Lawrence regarding her participation in the UNICEF concert, Dec. 12, 1976, 1p.

TLS (Xerox), Dec. 20, 1976, from John E. Neary to Miss Lawrence, thanking her for her contribution to the UNICEF concert, 1p.

TLS (Xerox), Feb. 19, 1977, from David I. Smith to Miss Lawrence asking her in what manner she would like to receive her C.B.E. honor, 1p.

Photo, June 1976, Marjorie Lawrence and Dr. King at Sydney Opera House

Photo, ca. Nov. 1976, Marjorie Lawrence and Joseph Dickinson

Photo, ca. Nov. 1976, Marjorie Lawrence and Dr. King with Salome portrait in background

Photo, ca. Nov. 1976, Salome Protrait

Memento of Australian version of This Is Your Life honoring Marjorie Lawrence, June 18, 1976, 17pp., containing photograph record of text, poem, autographs of guests, photographs of guests and a separate script, 26pp. [in Miss Lawrence’s possessions]

Folder 2: Material received June 26, 1977 from the SIU Alumni OfficeAdd to your cart.

citation (Xerox), Jan 1, 1977, appointing Marjorie Lawrence a Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Photo, May 17, 1977, Marjorie Lawrence, receiving her C.B.E. medallion from the Australian Ambassador, Mr. Allan P. Renouf

Article, “Marjorie Lawrence: Dreamatic Soprano” from Singers of Australia, (Xerox)

Press release, May 16, 1977, “Honors for Marjorie Lawrence”

Newsclipping Xerox, n.d., “’76 Truly Incredible Year for Marjorie Lawrence”

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence],
[Series 2: Programs],
[Series 3: Publicity],
[Series 4: Manuscripts],
[Series 5: Awards and Certificates],
[Series 6: SIU Material],
[Series 7: Financial Matters],
[Series 8: Music Scores],
[Series 9: Audiotapes],
[Series 10: Printed Matter],
[Series 11: Newsclippings],
[Series 12: Bound Music Scores],
[Series 13: Free Standing Volumes],
[Series 14: Packages],
[Series 15: Other materials],

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