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Geraldine Farrar (1882 - 1967)

The daughter of a professional baseball player, Geraldine Farrar was strongly supported by her mother in her early desire to be an opera singer. When only fourteen she gave a recital in Boston; and encouraged by Jean de Reszke to pursue her vocal studies she moved to New York where she became a pupil of Emma Thursby. Although quickly offered a contract by the Metropolitan Opera, she and her mother instead left for Paris in 1898 for further study. Here she studied with Trabadello, but balked at Mathilde Marchesi’s traditional approach to operatic singing and acting, searching instead for greater realism. She sought the advice of Lilian Nordica who suggested she approach Lilli Lehmann in Germany.

Farrar and her mother therefore moved to Berlin, where she studied with Graziani. Through an introduction to the intendant of the Berlin Court Opera she was immediately offered a contract to sing there, making her debut as Marguerite / Faust in 1901. This was quickly followed by Violetta / La traviata, after which she was accorded star status. Further roles included Nedda / Pagliacci, Zerlina / Don Giovanni, Juliette / Roméo et Juliette, Elisabeth / Tannhäuser (1905, her only Wagnerian role) and the title role in Massenet’s Manon. In 1903 Lehmann agreed to take Farrar as a pupil, training her to express emotions through her eyes and face rather than by means of extravagant gestures.




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