She Brought Down the House

Updated: Feb 22


Emma Wixom, aka. Emma Nevada

Born 1859 at Alpha mining camp near Nevada City, Died 1940 in Liverpool, England.


Celebrated coloratura soprano and opera singer. Emma was fluent in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Paiute, Shoshone, Washoe, and signed for the deaf.


Emma was three years old when she first performed in public. Draped in the American flag, she sang the Star Spangled Banner while standing upon a chair in church. Noted for her clear, soprano voice, Emma went to Europe and received serious voice instruction under the tutelage of Madame Marchesi in Vienna and Paris. In 1880 Emma debuted in London, acquiring the stage name, Emma Nevada, in honor of her birthplace. She toured Europe, performing in various music circles and in operas, She entertained European royalty, including Queen Victoria, who bestowed a diamond necklace on Emma, with an estimated value of $100,000.


After triumphantly conquering the Continent, Emma returned to America in the 1880s, and sang to sold out crowds. Returning to Nevada City in 1902 aboard the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad, the diva was met by a band and a crowd of thousands. The following evening she gave a farewell performance to Nevada City, held inside of the Nevada Theater. The theater was packed with miners and townspeople, including those who remembered her as a child. Attired in sky blue lace, decorated with a pink rose corsage, and holding a pink rose in her hand, Emma was greeted with a roar of applause as she entered the stage. At the end of her enchanting performance that evening she sang, "The Last Rose of Summer." The audience went wild!


And so it was, Emma Nevada graciously accepted Nevada City's exuberant welcome home of her much loved and distinguished daughter.

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