Countess Ethel Harrington Botassi

1888 - 1974

Ethel Harrington was an opera soprano soloist and performed throughout the United States and Europe. She was a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and studied voice in Paris. While touring Europe, she met Count Jean Pierre de Botassi, a baritone and a member of one of the royal families of Greece.  They married in Geneva, Switzerland, and after giving birth to a son, Victor, they moved to Shrewsbury, living at Sycamore Lodge.

Scandal struck the family when the Count returned to Europe to settle some financial matters and never returned to his wife and son. The Countess filed for divorce in 1922.  She toured the United States and Canada with the Creatore Grand Opera Company and later remarried John F. St. John.

Shrewsbury Singer Has Big Success In Grand Opera In Athens, Greece

Miss Harrington accompanied her husband to Greece, leaving her son Victor in the care of her mother. In Athens, she was accorded a truly royal welcome and appeared in the Royal Opera House in concerts and in La Bohème, in Riggoletto, and other operas. She added Greek songs to her repertoire, much to the delight of her audiences. In addition to singing under the royal patronage, the young American was twice invited to the palace where she sang in the presence of King Constantine, his consort, and members of the court. On these occasions, she charmed royalty with the Greek songs she had mastered and was complemented upon the clearness of her annunciation as well as upon the unusual quality of her voice.

Included in the souvenirs brought home to Shrewsbury by the young singer are an autograph letter from King Constantine commanding her presence at the palace; a beautiful old byzantine bracelet, the gift of the queen; Greek programs and posters announcing her appearance in opera and concert; and dozens of Greek press clippings commenting enthusiastically upon her voice and personality.

“Athens,” said Miss Harrington, “is a miniature Paris and the war has not seemed to touch it’s gaiety. Greece is neutral – just as we are. It isn’t pro German and certainly isn’t pro ally. 

It is concerned solely with the fate of Greece and is depending upon Great Britain to make good its promise to evacuation and restoration after the war. I had no difficulty in leaving the country, because though the wife of a Greek, I am an American citizen.”

“While I am unspeakably grateful for all that Europe has done for me in the way of developing my art, I am longing for the day when I can show American audiences just what I can do.”

 

Margaret T. Leahy, Shrewsbury Singer Has Big Success In Grand Opera In Athens, Greece (The Evening Gazette, Worcester, MA)

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The purpose and goal of the Shrewsbury Historical Society shall be to keep alive and increase interest in the history of the Town of Shrewsbury; to collect and preserve items of special value, traditions, and curiosities; to encourage general public interest in the Society's work and to maintain such personal properties and real estate that may come under the control of the Society.

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