A soprano enraptured by an electric car

Louise or Luisa Tetrazzini was a talented, celebrated and wealthy soprano of the early 1900s who billed the Chicago Opera Company $2,000 a night. With that kind of money, owning a house on Switzerland’s Lake Lugano was no big deal, and cars were a minor expense.

In 1913, Tetrazzini decided she wanted a small car to tootle around her lakeside home, and she chose an electric brougham made by Baker Motor Vehicle Company of Cleveland, Ohio, that cost her less than two nights’ earnings.

For the next week, Tetrazzini gave up everything else to focus on driving, and before the car was shipped to Switzerland she told an American journal: “I have quite forgotten singing and the opera. See, it glides so smoothly, silently — it is like floating in the air. Ma foi! will not my neighbors at Lake Lugano think it is beautiful and envy me?”

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