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Amsterdam native was opera star

By: Bob Cudmore

Date: 2017-06-10

Amsterdam nativeís operatic career cut short by car accident
By Bob Cudmore, Focus on History, Daily Gazette, 06-10-2017

Albert Sochin, an Amsterdam born opera singer who performed as Albert DaCosta, died at age thirty-nine in an automobile accident while driving to sing in a production of Carmen at the Jutland Opera in Denmark.

Albertís father was Joseph Sochin, member of a prominent Amsterdam Jewish family who operated Sochinís menís clothing store first on Guy Park Avenue then on Market Street. Albertís mother, Violet DaCosta, was a member of St. Annís Episcopal Church, where their son was a boy soprano in the youth choir.

When Albertís voice changed he sang baritone in the 1940s. He was in great demand. Reader Ken Garrick, who suggested this story, said his aunt recalled that Albert occasionally was a soloist at the then Second Presbyterian Church in Amsterdam with ďa tremendous voice.Ē Albert performed at weddings, funerals, high school productions and concerts of the Mohawk Mills Chorus, now the Mohawk Valley Chorus.

Near the end of World War II Albert joined the Navy. He met H. Jean Rower from Toledo, Ohio at a Navy concert in Corpus Christi, Texas, where they were both performing. Albert and Jean married at the Corpus Christi Naval Base chapel in July 1945 and went on to have six children.

After the war Albert studied music for three years at the Juilliard School, moving to New York City. He auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera in 1952 on a live program on ABC television.

The judges were not impressed with his baritone voice and told him he should sing as a tenor. Albert set to work training. A year later impresario Charles L. Wagner said that Albert was ďone of the finest tenor voicesĒ he had discovered.

In 1954 the Met held another live television audition and tenor Albert Sochin DaCosta was one of the winners. He was signed to a contract for the 1955-56 season.

An imposing man, Albertís first role at the Met was as the sailor in Tristan und Isolde. At the end of 1955 he returned to Amsterdam to sing and raise money for the Rotary Clubís student loan program. Hugh Donlon of the Recorder wrote of Albert, ďA remarkable voice notwithstanding, the nicest thing about him is his friendly way.Ē

By 1962 Albert concluded he was not getting enough work in America. He moved with his family to Europe where, as he said, most cities with more than seventy-five thousand people have opera houses.

They lived in Switzerland for a time where he sang in Zurich and then moved to Horrem, Germany, a suburb of Cologne where Albert was leading tenor of the Cologne Opera Company.

His last trip to America was in 1966 when he visited his father in Amsterdam and his mother at a hospital in Tarrytown, New York. His mother returned with him to Europe and was convalescing with her sonís family when Albert died the next year.

News coverage of the 1967 accident said a car driven by Albert skidded on a sharp curve that was slippery from rain, leaving the highway, crashing through trees and overturning. Albert apparently died instantly. The man with him, Dutch singer Jan Gerksen, was slightly injured.

Albertís mother Violet died the next year in Briarcliff Manor, New York, where Albertís widow Jean and her family may have moved. Jean Sochin soon relocated to Jamaica, Vermont and worked at a school district in Townshend.

Albertís father, Joseph Sochin, died in 1969 while visiting his daughter-in-law in Vermont. Jean Sochin, pianist and vocalist in her own right, died in 2007 at age 87. She was survived by five of their children, fifteen grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

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