Sale of the Jessye Norman 'White Gates' Collection on March 29, 2017
Contents of the Opera Star's Country House, White Gates, Including Artwork, Furniture, Decorations, Silver, Books, Autographs and Stage Jewelry
Offered as a Featured Section of the Doyle at Home Auction Comprising Lots 100-226
The famed opera and concert singer Jessye Norman is moving from her gracious country home, White Gates, and Doyle is honored to offer the contents of this special property at auction. A landmark sale of artwork, furniture, decorations, silver, books, autographs and stage jewelry took place at Doyle on March 29, 2017. Select highlights from the Collection will also be offered in upcoming auctions in April and May 2017.
Jessye Norman, born in Augusta, Georgia, is one of the world’s greatest and most beloved figures in the realm of classical music. Raised in a family of music lovers and amateur musicians, Miss Norman began singing in the living room of her own home from age four and developed a striking love for music. She discovered opera by way of the weekly radio broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera.
Encouraged and supported in the tight-knit community of her family and public school teachers, as well as mentors from her church, she went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree through a full-tuition scholarship at Howard University. This was followed by further study at the Peabody Conservatory with a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan.
Miss Norman began her professional life in Europe, making her debut in December of 1969 at age twenty-four with the Deutsche Oper Berlin in Wagner’s Tannhauser, where she was described as having “the greatest voice since the German soprano, Lotte Lehman.” She joined the company there for three years.
Her first professional performance in the United States took place in 1970 at the Temple University Festival with the Pittsburgh Symphony conducted by Dean Dixon. First performances at La Scala in Verdi’s Aida and The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in Les Troyens by Berlioz would follow in 1972. Her debut at the Hollywood Bowl with James Levine was in the summer of 1973. Her operatic stage debut in the States was with the Philadelphia Opera in 1982 in the roles of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.
She continued performing to great acclaim in recitals with piano, concerts with orchestras, at music festivals and on the stages of leading opera houses around the world, making her debut at the Metropolitan Opera on opening night of the 100th Anniversary season as Cassandra in Les Troyens. She would go on to sing both leading female roles, Cassandra and Dido.
Away from the normal venues for her performances, Miss Norman has performed on many special occasions including the Bicentennial of the French Revolution in Paris in 1989 on the Place de la Concorde, two Presidential Inaugurations, the opening ceremonies of the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, for one of the Queen’s birthdays, for the visits of Nelson Mandela to Harvard University and New York City, and for the Dalai Lama upon his visit to London in 2012.
Her many awards and recognitions include 45 honorary doctorate degrees from universities, colleges and conservatories worldwide. She is an Officier in France’s Ordre National de la Legion D’honneur, and a Commandeur in the L’Ordre Des Arts et des Lettres. France has also named an orchid for her. She has been awarded the Kennedy Center Honor and the National Medal of the Arts.
Together with The Rachel Longstreet Foundation, Miss Norman established The Jessye Norman School of the Arts in her hometown. This after-school, tuition-free education in all forms of arts study and performance is offered to talented middle school children for whom private study in the arts would otherwise not be possible.
Miss Norman serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall, The New York Botanical Gardens, The New York Public Library, and The Dance Theatre of Harlem, and she has long been a spokesperson for Lupus Research and for The Partnership for the Homeless.
Set in the rolling hills of northern Westchester County, White Gates has served as Miss Norman’s country retreat for nearly thirty years. A previous owner, Allen Funt, was creator of the popular television show, Candid Camera. His movie screen still lives in the office above the garage.
The manor house and surrounding compound shaded by mature landscaping provide a tranquil respite from performance obligations. Mind, soul, body and spirit were rejuvenated amid her treasured collection of artwork, elegant furnishings, myriad books on countless subjects and inspiring music memorabilia. Here, Miss Norman created her own ‘mise-en-scene’ for musical preparations and for entertaining her large extended family and friends with Southern grace and charm, coupled with international flavor and flair.
Select highlights from The Jessye Norman ‘White Gates’ Collection will also be offered in the following auctions:
Rare Books, Autographs & Photographs / April 26
Prints & Multiples / May 1
Post-War & Contemporary Art / May 10
Old Master Paintings / May 24