Forgotten Canadian Opera Star Brought Back to Life Through Crowdfunding.
Ambition. Fame. Betrayal. The Canadian Nightingale: Bertha Crawford and the Dream of the Prima Donna, reveals the untold story of a gifted young woman from small-town Ontario, who rose to unprecedented success on the opera stages of Russia and Poland, only to be forgotten for eighty years. Tracking a roller coaster ride to celebrity that was ultimately derailed by broken trust, this new Canadian biography revives a singular voice, and reminds us how important it is to recognize Canadian talent and artistic contribution.
Rejected by traditional publishers as ‘too difficult to market’, The Canadian Nightingale is the subject of an upcoming Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that will leverage social media to test the real interest of Canadian readers in the history of Canadian music and culture.
“Mainstream Canadian publishers think classical music fans are a small niche market who are hard to reach, and not interested in Canadian history anyway. I think they are wrong. This crowdfunding campaign will allow readers to pre-order my book and ensure that this Canadian musician is restored to her place in history.” says author Jane Cooper.
Inspired by a passing reference in a 1924 family letter, six years of research and writing have resulted in a full cradle-to-grave biography which reconstructs the overlooked life of possibly the most successful Canadian opera star in Europe in the first quarter of the 20th century.
From a youthful start as the soprano soloist at Toronto’s Metropolitan Methodist Church (now the United Church) on Queen Street, Bertha Crawford (1886-1937) built a name for herself across Canada, in the first decade of the last century. But she had to leave Canada to get the European training and experience she needed to be considered a really serious performer at home.
Ironically, Crawford became such an established star in Poland that she lost touch with her Canadian audience, and was forgotten in the land of her birth. And yet, while she was a well-loved performer across Poland, the ‘Canadian Nightingale’ was never considered Polish in her adopted home, and so has been forgotten there too.
This historical biography will be published by FriesenPress in the fall of 2017. As of May 25, 2017, readers can visit the Kickstarter site and pre-order their copy of the book, and help get this story into homes, libraries and schools across Canada.
Jane Cooper is a researcher and writer from the Ottawa area. Undertaking policy research by day, by night she escapes into the history of the early 20th century. Working on and off in the former Soviet Union over the past ten years, she has developed a particular interest in the experiences of Western women in Eastern Europe in the first quarter of the previous century.