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Geraldine Farrar (Geraldine Farrar)

Geraldine  Farrar

Opera Singer, Actress. She was a lyric soprano who sang leading roles in the principal theatres of Europe and America for around 20 years. Taking to music early she began lessons at five and started giving public recitals at 14; after early vocal education in Boston, New York, and Paris, she was trained in Berlin by legendary Wagnerian soprano Lilli Lehmann, making her 1901 professional debut there as Marguerite from Charles Gounod’s “Faust”. notable success in Berlin and Monte Carlo followed as the title leads of Ambrose Thomas’ “Mignon”, Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette”, and Jules Massenet’s “Manon”. Returning to America, she made her november 26, 1906, Metropolitan Opera bow as Juliette; Gerry was to earn rave reviews for her performance as Cio Cio San in the Metropolitan premiere of Giacomo Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” in 1907 and her assumption of the same composer’s “Tosca” in 1909. Over the course of her career she appeared at the Metropolitan about 500 times in 29 roles, with 95 performances of Cio Cio San and 58 of Georges Bizet’s ‘cigarette girl’ “Carmen” leading her list. Gerry gave several world premieres, most notably of Puccini’s “Suor Angelica” at the Metropolitan on December 14, 1918, under the baton of Roberto Moranzoni. She was always a darling of the media, and in a phoenominon that prefigured the “rock groupies” of a later age numerous teenage girls calling themselves “Gerry-Flappers” followed her career. Between 1915 and 1920 Gerry appeared in about a dozen silent movies, her most acclaimed parts being the lead of Cecil B. De Mille’s 1915 version of “Carmen” and Joan of Arc in 1917’s “Joan the Woman”. Her private life was not without scandal; rumours of liasons with Crown Prince (later Kaiser) Wilhelm of Germany and such musical personalities as Arturo Toscanini and Enrico Caruso persisted. (In response to an ultimatum, Maestro Toscanini left Gerry, the Metropolitan, and America in 1915 rather than give up his wife). Her one marriage, a 1916 union with actor Lou Tellegen, ended badly in a messy and public 1923 divorce. Gerry retired in 1922, still young but with her voice used-up by overwork and roles such as Tosca and Butterfly that were probably too heavy for her. She continued to sing recitals until 1931, worked for one season as a Metropolitan Opera radio commentator (famous exchange: “How does one get to sing like Rosa Ponselle?” Gerry’s answer: “By special arrangement with God.”), and with her mother co-wrote an autobiography entitled “Such Sweet Compulsion”. In 1960 she was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, though the one honoring her film career has been somehow lost while her music star remains. Gerry died of heart disease; much of her recorded legacy, mostly cut for RCA Victor, is still available in CD format.

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Born

  • February, 28, 1882
  • USA
  • Massachusetts

Died

  • March, 11, 1967
  • USA
  • Connecticut

Cemetery

  • Kensico Cemetery
  • New York
  • USA

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