Ponselle, Rosa (pŏnzĕlˈ) [key], 1897–1981, American operatic soprano, b. Meriden, Conn. First appearing in vaudeville, she made her debut (1918) at the Metropolitan Opera in Verdi's La forza del destino, opposite Caruso. She was an outstanding member of that company until her retirement in 1937. Ponselle was noted for her powerful, expressive voice and her handling of low tones. Her fame has endured as a result of several important recordings.
See her memoirs (1982); biographies by J. A. Drake (1997) and by M. J. Phillips-Matz (1997).
Her sister, Carmela Ponselle, 1892–1977, mezzo-soprano, b. Schenectady, N.Y., also sang with the Metropolitan Opera company (1925–28, 1930–35), and thereafter taught.