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Palmer, Rosina Martha (1844–1932)

from Brisbane Courier

The death in Melbourne on Thursday night of Mrs. Palmer (formerly Rosina Carandini) at the age of 88 closed the brilliant career of a famous prima donna, noted in Australia for her soprano voice. She was for many years a favourite concert and oratorio singer. Rosina Carandini was born in Hobart in 1844, her mother being the eldest child of the late Márchese di Sarzano di Risi and Viscount Ferrario of Modena, Italy. Rosina's father was a political refugee, who grieved much over the enforced absence from his country, and found his chief consolation in music. To his little daughter, who early gave signs of ability as a pianist, he would say, with tears in his eyes: "I have lost my home and my country. Play to me!" The sympathy and tenderness, which were the outstanding features of Mrs. Palmer's voice, may well have been engendered by those early attempts to alleviate the sorrow of her father. Rosina Carandini's debut as a singer was made at the age of twelve, when she took part in a concert at St. Joseph's Cathedral, Hobart, to celebrate the installation of a new organ. Two years later she made her first appearance in opera, playing the important part of Adalgisa to her mother's Norma.

In 1860, when only 16 years of age, she married Mr. Edward Hodson Palmer. Some years later she joined her mother in a concert tour of Australia. Subsequently Madame Carandini went with her four daughters, all of whom had fine voices, to America. She had not been there long before news reached her of the death of her husband in Italy. Abandoning the European tour she had planned for herself and her daughters, she returned to Australia. From then Mrs. Palmer settled in Melbourne, occupying herself with singing and teaching. For 31 years she was soprano soloist at Scots Church.

As a teacher Mrs. Palmer accomplished much fine work. She had a charm that was easy to recognise, but difficult to define. It was a great disappointment to her that she was compelled some years ago to give up her teaching. "I should like to die in harness," she said, giving a glimpse of her indomitable courage and her passion for work.

Mrs. Gilbert Wilson, who has been known for many years as a soprano of exceptional quality, and a teacher of voice production, is the daughter of the late Mrs. Palmer, and has done much to promote singing in Brisbane.

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Citation details

'Palmer, Rosina Martha (1844–1932)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/palmer-rosina-martha-4359/text24103, accessed 20 October 2018.

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