Ruby Mercer



Competition Winner

Born: July 26, 1906 (Athens, OH)

Died: January 26, 1999 (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Ruby Mercer, soprano, was also an American-born Canadian writer, broadcaster, and entrepreneur. She was born in Athens, Ohio and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1927 from Ohio University, a Bachelor of Music degree in 1930 from Cincinnati-College Conservatory, and honorary doctorates from Ohio in 1978 and University of Toronto in 1995. She made Canada her adopted home after her marriage to Geza Por, a Canadian businessman.

Ms. Mercer was a winner of the 1934 Walter W. Naumburg Foundation's competition. In 1936, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut singing the role of Nedda in Pagliacci.

Mercer was under contract to MGM in 1938, and appeared in Radio City Music Hall, Broadway productions, and on radio and television. She toured North America in opera, operetta and musical comedy before becoming the producer and host of WNYC's "Mr. and Mrs. Opera" (1949-1958).

She founded Opera Canada in 1969, a periodical for which she served as editor from 1960-1990. She was also the founder of the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus and served as its first president. She was the host of CBC radio's weekly show Opera Time from 1962-1979, as well as its successor Opera In Stereo from 1979 - 1984.

She was the author of The Tenor of His Time (Toronto 1976) a biography of Edward Johnson, manager of the Met Opera from 1935-1950 and The Quilicos (1991) about the baritone Louis Quilico, his wife pianist Edna, and son Gino, also a bass baritone. In edition she was the author of many articles in EMC, Musical America and Opera News.

She was awarded the Canadian Music council medal in 1983, and a Toronto Arts lifetime achievement award in 1988. In 1995, she became a member of the Order of Canada, and in 1997, donated her papers to the National Library of Canada.

She was recognized as a champion of Canadian opera and as pivotal in raising the profile of Canadian artists at home and abroad.


1934 Naumburg Competition

First Prize

Commissioned Works

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Naumburg Performances

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Recording Awards

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