From   Dancyville  to  Dusseldorf, Germany
The  Road  traveled  by  Eugene  Holmes

By: Jerry Wilson
Staff Writer


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Eugene  Holmes Ca.  1990

The road traveled by world renowned Baritone and opera star, Eugene Holmes, actually
had its beginning near the Dancyville community of Haywood County.

This story began when Debbie Sterbinsky, a Haywood County Genealogy Genie, was presented with a German newspaper that featured a man born in Brownsville, Tennessee.
That was the extent of the information available when this story began to unfold.

During the quest for information, much interesting history and accounts of his life began to unfold thanks in part to relatives Evelyn Jones and Clinton Thomas.

Eugene Holmes was born in Haywood County near the Dancyville Community March 7, 1934. He was the youngest of 15 siblings born to Charlie and Mary Dotson Holmes. His mother passed away when Holmes was a small boy. According to Evelyn Jones, his sisters tried to care for the children but were unsuccessful and the children eventually moved in different directions with family members. A sister moved to St. Louis when Holmes was in the second or third grade at the Dancyville School and he moved with her.

He completed his education in St. Louis and Missouri. After graduation from college, he taught school for a couple of years in St. Louis but decided that teaching was not his forte.
He decided to change careers and zeroed in on a career in music. As it turned out, that
wasn't a bad decision at all.

He made several television appearances on the Ted Mack Show in the early 1960s and his career and notoriety as a strong baritone singer began to take shape. Evelyn Jones remembers catching these shows when she lived on Hatchie Street. "It didn't seem to be too long after that," she, said, "when he moved to Germany."

In a publication of the Koanga cast of the American premier of 1970, Holmes was
described in this fashion: "He studied at Boston University and performed his first leading part with the Goldovsky Opera Theatre as "John Proctor" in The Crucible. He has achieved national prominence both on the operatic and recital stage. As a member of the Metropolitan Opera National Company, Holmes performed as a leading baritone when he sang the role of the Elder "Germont" in La Traviata 40 times and "Schaunard" in La Boheme 38 times. These performances were followed by a highly successful debut with the San Francisco Opera in Schuller's The Visitation, and with the New York City Opera as the Elder "Germont" in La Traviata." Holmes also made his debut at the Vienna State Opera as "Amonasro" in Aida and as "Tonio" in Pagliacd at the Staatsoper. He played the leading role in the world premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti's The Most Important Man presented by the New York City Opera. He was a member of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Dusseldorf from 1983 and appeared as Nabucco, Amonasro, Macbeth, and Boccanegra.

In addition to the U.S., his opera and concert tours have taken him to such countries
as Germany, France, Russia, and Japan.

He consistently received raving reviews from the opera critics. Regarding his role in "Koanga," Harold C. Schonberg of the New York Times wrote, "In all respects Mr. Holmes was superb. He had the bearing, the dignity, the body and a voice of commanding depth and timbre." According to Time Magazine, ..."so superb was the singing of Eugene Holmes that sellout audiences erupted into shouting ovations at the end." Kathlyn Russell of San Diego wrote, "Eugene Holmes, who became a San Diego favorite with his performances of Scarpia and Germont, practically received the keys to the city as Count di Luna. Not only was he in
glorious voice, with precise and intelligent musical interpretation, but his stage
presence was commanding from the opening, and he was convincing in his role of the arrogant aristocrat." There are literally hundredsof similar reviews regarding Holmes many performances.                                                                                                                       

Eugene Holmes left a great legacy with his passing January 19,2007, in Germany
where he lived with his German born wife, Katja. They left no children. He was laid to rest on Friday, January 26, 2007, in the Northern Cemetery of Dusseldorf, Germany.

There are only four of the remaining Holmes siblings that include Kelsy, Mozell,
Barbara and Roxanna

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Eugene Holmes is pictured with his wife, Katja


Reprinted from
The  Brownsville States-Graphic
February 26, 2009  Edition ~ Used  by permission





Posted  March 27, 2009