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Anna V. Kobsa, opera singer, dies

Anna Kobsa performed in New York City and Baltimore.
Anna Kobsa performed in New York City and Baltimore.

Anna V. Kobsa, an opera singer who was a protegee and confidante of operatic soprano Rosa Ponselle, died March 25 of cardiac arrest at College Manor Assisted Living in Lutherville. The longtime West Towson resident was 91.

The former Anna Vinci, daughter of Joseph Vinci, a produce man in his father’s business, P. Joseph Vinci & Sons, who later worked in parimutuel windows at Maryland racetracks, and his wife, Margaret Hilldebrand Vinci, a homemaker, was born and raised in West Baltimore.

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She was a 1946 graduate of Western High School.

"After high school, she immediately began pursuing her singing career,” said her daughter, Francesca K. Lynch of Lutherville. "A former Miss Baltimore, she had participated in several WJZ-TV talent contests, and winning one."

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During the 1950s, she lived in New York City, where she performed as a soprano under the stage name of Anna da Vinci. “She added the ‘da’ to her professional name,” her daughter said.

Mrs. Kobsa performed on “The Jackie Gleason Show,” “Kraft TV Theater” and “The Wendy Barrie Show,” an early TV talk show that made its debut in 1948 on ABC and which took its name from the Hollywood actress who was its host. She also appeared in off-Broadway productions and summer stock musicals as well as doing some incidental modeling.

After her marriage in 1959 to Calvin K. Kobsa, an architect, the couple settled into a home in Rodgers Forge.

Mrs. Kobsa continued performing and in 1964, appeared with the combined Park and Municipal Concert bands at the old Memorial Stadium, where she sang solos from “Tosca.”

Critics remarked that she could both sing and act.

During the 1960s and 1970s, she performed with the Baltimore Civic Opera and the Harford Theater, and made many regional appearances, including at the Lyric Theater, now the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric.

While continuing to sing at family and friends’ gatherings, Mrs. Kobsa stopped performing professionally in the late 1970s.

She became a close friend of the celebrated opera diva Rosa Ponselle, her daughter said.

“She and my father spent a lot of time with Rosa Ponselle at her home, Villa Pace, in the Greenspring Valley,” Ms. Lynch said.

Even though she had ended her professional career, Mrs. Kobsa remained a strong financial supporter of the opera and the arts.

Mrs. Kobsa was also an accomplished cook.

“She was a wonderful cook and an intuitive one,” her daughter said. “She had learned all of the Italian recipes from her grandmother and mother. She could take anything and make it fabulous.”

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In 1981, when Roland Park Country School published the “Roland Park Country School Cookbook,” Mrs. Kobsa’s recipe for Baltimore trifle, featuring ladyfingers, macaroons, plum jelly, vanilla, almonds, milk, cream and sherry, was included.

Her husband, who died in 2014, was the founder of Calvin Kern Kobsa & Associates, and in 1972 Mrs. Kobsa served as president of the Women’s Architectural League.

In 1972, she and her husband moved into a contemporary redwood home that he designed and that sits on a slight hill facing down Charles Street Avenue in West Towson.

“She was a very strong personality and always a force to be reckoned with,” Ms. Lynch said.

Plans for a celebration-of-life gathering to be held this summer are incomplete.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by her sister, Constance Phillips of Northeast Baltimore, and four grandchildren. Another daughter, Marianna Weisheit, died in 2016.

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