Opera Singer Lucille Segal
Her father took her to see Tales of Hoffman at the Met when she was 10 years old. He was an opera lover “who couldn’t really carry a tune.”
Graduated from Juilliard in 1936. She also met her husband there.
Including three years with the Metropolitan Opera in the extra chorus when her children were young; 25 years with the New York City Opera beginning in 1943, the year it was founded. Lucille’s stage name was Harriet Greene.
On New York City Opera:
“Mayor LaGuardia gave us the City Center building for a dollar a year, and that made it possible. Can you believe the highest price ticket was $3? That shows how old I am!”
“The ones we did the most were La Traviata and Carmen. They were our ‘homes’ so to speak. I liked doing Gilbert and Sullivan. They were always fun.”
On Placido Domingo:
Lucille met Domingo when he was 23, when he made his City Opera debut in the title role in the U.S. premiere of Alberto Ginastera's Don Rodrigo (1966). “He is a lovely man, very interesting and very amusing. A wonderful musician… He was a big hit right away.”
Captured in a sketch:
The sketch of Lucille is by costume designer Patton Campbell, from the opera Carry Nation (1968) that she did at City Opera—“Patton said I didn’t convince him as a hooker, so he made me the madam! He did beautiful work.”
On being Mommie:
“When somebody asked my son, ‘what does your mother do?’ he said, ‘She’s an opera singer.’ And they said, ‘What’s her name?’ and he said, ‘Mommie.’ I think ‘Mommie’ was the biggest part of my career.” Lucille has three children, six grandkids and one great-grandchild.
Advice for young singers:
“Just keep doing it. Just keep trying. Eventually you get something. It may not be what you planned but there’s so much enjoyment in learning new music and performing it. Even the physical enjoyment.”
Lucille is part of a very special community of unique individuals who reside at The Actors Fund's Lillian Booth Actors Home. The Home is the jewel in The Fund’s housing crown and a recipient of U.S. News and World Report’s coveted “Best Nursing Homes in America” award, bestowed on the best 2,700 of the 17,000 facilities nationwide. Our 124 residents represent a diverse cross-selection of the entertainment industry—from stagehands to writers to producers and, of course, dancers and actors, too. Nearly every entertainment union is represented under one roof in Englewood, New Jersey.
This interview originally appeared in Marquee, the official newsletter of The Actors Fund. Join The Fund today! Not only will you receive your own copy of Marquee twice yearly plus all the benefits of membership, you'll also play an important role in helping everyone in our creative community in times of need, crisis or transition and continue The Actors Fund tradition of caring for our own in entertainment.
Photo: Joann Coates