Clara Louise Kellogg was born in Sumterville, South Carolina to a musical family, particularly in her mother, father, and maternal grandmother. In her biography, Kellogg claims that her first musical efforts occurred at the age of ten months, when she attempted to sing in mimesis of her “negro mammy.” The family relocated to Birmingham, Connecticut, where Kellogg continued to demonstrate her interest and talent in singing and playing the piano. After her father, a “dignified scholar,” failed and moved the family to New York in 1857, Kellogg was discovered by Colonel Henry G. Stebbins of the Academy of Music. Though originally trained as a musician, Kellogg devoted herself to vocal lessons for four years, studying under Millet of the Conservatory of Paris and later under Manzocchi, Rivarde, Errani, and Muzio. Drawn to the stage, Kellogg performed for soldiers at West Point before making her debut in opera (Kellogg 1-10). The Civil War had a characteristic impact on Kellogg’s career, and she writes, “It has always been a matter of secret pride with me that, in my small way, I did something for the Union too. I heard that our patriotic and inartistic Daughter of the Regiment caused several lads to enlist” (Kellogg 58).
Linking Kellogg to the Pfaff’s scene, Albert Parry calls her "the diva" and describes her as "an American prima donna then at the sunset of her career but prosperous enough to be kind to the young art-gentry of New York and to go to Italy for her winters” (92). Kellogg also frequented Maria’s, "a New York restaurant popular among the "Bohemians" of the 1890s (92). Parry describes Kellogg’s gossip sessions in which she told “droll stories” about Ada Clare’s lover, Louis Gottschalk, and his “innumerable conquests of silly females…Madame said she had no dealings with Louis except professionally. The voluptuaries at Maria’s winked at each other behind Madame’s broad back" (92).
Making her first appearance as Gilda in “Rigoletto” at the Academy of Music in 1861, Kellogg gained widespread attention in 1864 as Marguerite in Gounod’s “Faust.” Harriet Prescott Spofford contrasts Kellogg during her first performance, “a girl of seventeen, slight and pale, so nervous that she could hardly mover her rigid lips, so frightened that she could hardly command her young voice,” to her several years later “before a house crowded from floor to ceiling with the best culture of the British empire, with dukes and duchesses flinging her their flowers,… sure of herself and of her audience, mistress of her art and of the stage…” (359-60). She made her first trip to London in 1867, where she continued to gain repute before returning to the U.S. the following year. Appletons' Cyclopædia describes her as “the first American to win musical recognition for her country from the Old World” (506). Over the course of several European tours, Kellogg was gifted $250,000 worth of jewels by “royal personages and others” (Clara Kellogg’s Will.”) Kellogg organized two successful opera companies and would appear in forty-five operas throughout her life, first as a high soprano and later in lower, richer tones (Grant & Fiske, eds. 506).
In 1887 Kellogg married Carl Strakosch, her manager of several years who was seventeen years her junior (“Carl Strakosch Dead.”). The two settled in New Hartford, Connecticut, although Kellogg continued to perform until the year before her death. Kellogg suffered a nervous breakdown at the age of seventy-four (“Clara Louise Kellogg Ill.”), died shortly after in 1916, and was buried in New Hartford. According to a New York Times announcement of her funeral, “Many persons prominent in the musical world were present from New York, Boston, and elsewhere” (“Clara Louise Kellogg Buried.”)
Left Her Entire Estate to Husband-Its Value Not Indicated
Figaro mentions that Kellogg's benefit was postponed and announces that it has been rescheduled (5).[pages:5]
Figaro wonders why Bennett at the Herald doesn't renew his previous year's attacks on Kellogg in light of his recent criticism of several other popular female performers (169).[pages:169]
Figaro reports that Bennett's treatment of Kellogg has been one of his biggest recent mistakes (152).[pages:152]
Figaro lists Miss Kellogg under Maretzek's soprano singers. Figaro claims he is surprised that Maretzek will have anything to do with Kellogg after her treatment by Bennett and the Herald last year (41).[pages:41]
Figaro reports that Kellogg had to sing the part of Mdlle. Parepa during Bateman's Wednesday concert at the Academy of Music (185).[pages:185]
Figaro reports that Kellogg will star in Faust, the opening opera of Maretzek's season (121).[pages:121]
Figaro discusses the "attacks" made upon her in the Herald and her reception by the audience during the opera's opening this week. He argues that the Herald's discusssion of her singing created a more sympathetic and welcoming audience and that she should have the Herald defame her more frequently as it works to her advantage (136-137). Figaro reviews her performance as Marghertia in Faust (137).[pages:136-137]
Parry describes her as "the diva," "an American prima donna then at the sunset of her career but prosperous enough to be kind to the young art-gentry of New York and to go to Italy for her winters. She was the link between Pfaff's and Maria's," a New York restaurant popular among the "Bohemians" of the 1890s (92). Parry continues that "She remembered the fascinatingly drooping eyelids of Gottschalk, Ada's gay deceiver. She told at Maria's droll stories of his unnumerable conquests of silly females. The frequenters of Maria's gasped at this long-ago deviltry. They pressed Madame Kellogg for more details, forgetting to be discreet. But Madame primly assured them that she herself had had a good guardian in the person of her mother who warned her against Gottschalk. Madame said she had no dealings with Louis except professionally. The voluptuaires at Maria's winked at each other behind Madame's broad back" (92).[pages:92]
Personne mentions rehearsals for her at the opera; she is also referred to as "La Kelloggini" (3).[pages:3]
Whitman mentions that he has been to the opera several times, and that Miss Kellogg is good.[pages:183]
Kellogg debut as Gilda in Rigoletto" in 1864 at the Academy of music in New York; however, she did not gain fame until 1864 as Marguerite in Gounod's "Faust."[pages:506]
Husband of Late Clara Louise Kellog Expires Suddenly.
“Clara Louise Kellogg Buried.”
Once Famous Prima Donna Suffers a Nervous Breakdown at 74
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015