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Maria Luisa West Negri

Obituary for Maria Luisa West Negri

January 7, 2020
San Antonio, Texas

Obituary

Maria Luisa West Negri, widow of internationally known opera and concert tenor, Nerino Negri, died January 7, 2020, in San Antonio, Texas. Mrs. Negri was born August 20, 1931, in Wichita Falls, Texas, to John Amos and Winnie Davis Jackson West. Mr. West was well-known in philatelic & numismatic circles, while Mrs. West, daughter of pioneers, was a journalist, editor and reporter for several newspapers. They fostered Mrs. Negri's singing ambition, and she studied locally for some time. Mrs. Negri graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from Midwestern University, recipient of the Ledford Award, and President of the newly formed music society Phi Mu Theta. She was elected to membership in Alpha Chi, an honorary society for excellence in English, and upon graduation, went to Boston for graduate studies at the New England Conservatory of Music. There, she was chosen by Professor Charles French to be part of The Cecilia Society's tour of France, sailing on the Liberte', which was one of the first great adventures that singing brought, with the tour including performances in Notre Dame Cathedral, Versailles Chapel, Lille, Strasbourg, Dijon, and Rouen.

Eager to begin singing professionally, she auditioned for the San Francisco Opera Chorus, and with that company, made her debut with several comprimaria roles as well. During her seven years in San Francisco, she was soloist at the Presidio Chapel, Old First Presbyterian Church, and appeared with the Sixth Army Band. In 1960, Mr. Negri joined accepted soloist positions with St. James' Church, and Church of the Heavenly Rest, as well as with other churches, temples, and choral groups. She sang for 13 years with the New York City Opera as soloist and in chorus, enjoying bus and plane tours to the opening of Lincoln Center's Concert Hall, under Leonard Bernstein. Together and singly, the couple performed in concert and TV in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Switzerland, Italy and across the U.S. She was a member of St. James Episcopal Church, where she was a soloist in the choir. For nearly 10 years, she conducted a successful artists' management business. After Maestro Negri retired, they moved to Italy and Switzerland, living there for 12 years before returning to the U.S. They enjoyed travel, and Mrs. Negri joked about their frequent moves, taking them from California to New York, Texas and New Mexico, several times. They spoke Italian in their home, where Mr. Negri was the chef. After his death on New Year's Day of 1999, Mrs. Negri found it increasingly difficult to re-establish a lifestyle that had been such a joy and satisfaction. She moved several times: to Utah, where was President of the Friends of the Library and member of the Toastmasters Club; to New Mexico, where was a member of the Boards of Directors for The Islands, her residence; and finally to San Antonio, where she found new friends who were her support system, and who brought affection and interest to her life. She is survived by three cousins, who became increasingly close as they discovered family characteristics both amusing and instructive. Interment will be in Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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