Art

Geraldine Farrar

... Melrose's own superstar of opera and film

by George Nelson Torrey

Geraldine Farrar, America's first superstar of opera and film, was born February 28, 1882 on Mt. Vernon Street in Melrose, Massacusetts. Educated in the city of her birth, she attended first, the Grove Street School--later renamed the Horace Mann School--and Melrose High. Music came naturally to the girl whose mother and father both sang in the First Universalist Church of Melrose.

After studies in Boston, New York and Paris, Geraldine made her operatic debut in Berlin at the age of nineteen. Success followed success and in 1906, she made her first Metropolitan Opera performance as Gounod's Juliette. With her personal beauty, strong seductive voice and impassioned acting, she quickly became a major star, setting new trends in opera. So great was her ability to communicate with audiences world-wide, she made a silent film of her interpretation of Bizet's Carmen. Despite the absence of sound, the film was a huge popular and critical success. Her farewell performance to the operatic public took place on April 22, 1922. Fans and spectators filled every available space--including the aisles--of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

According to a reporter for the New York Times, scalpers were demanding and receiving $100 per ticket for the event (an unheard of price for the time) As the opera ended and Farrar fell to the floor in a swoon in the title role of ZAZA, fans wept and cheered for the world famous soprano.

There were no special eulogies, at Farrar's request, just a simple farewell curtain speech of appreciation from the artist to her adoring public.

Geraldine Farrar died in Ridgefield, Connecticut on March 11, 1967.

For more information:

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF GERALDINE FARRAR, SUCH SWEET COMPULSION, The Greystone Press, New York, 1938.

GERALDINE FARRAR: THE STORY OF AN AMERICAN SINGER,Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1916

July 1, 2005


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