Posts Tagged ‘opera’

SCA on the Graham Norton Show

You never know who is going to want to use Special Collections & Archives materials. Last week we were contacted by a researcher for the Graham Norton Show about using an image from our digitized pamphlet Florence Foster Jenkins: An Appreciation (previously blogged about here). Jenkins is the subject of an upcoming film starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, and the Graham Norton Show used an image from our digitized pamphlet in their interview with Streep. Watch the clip and see the image below:

The interview aired last Friday, April 15.

We’re always excited to find out who is using our collections–thanks to the Graham Norton Show for reaching out to us!

New Norman Treigle exhibit

Treigle as Boito's Mefistofele

Dr. Valerie Goertzen’s Intro to Graduate Studies class has been hard at work this semester researching the life and career of Loyola graduate and local and international opera star Norman Treigle with archivists Trish Nugent and Elizabeth Kelly. The culmination of this project is the exhibit “The Golden Voice of New Orleans,” now available for viewing outside Special Collections & Archives on the third floor of the library.

The students in Intro to Graduate Studies did original research using the manuscript materials in the Norman Treigle Papers as well as secondary research using Brian Morgan’s biography Strange Child of Chaos: Norman Treigle.

There will be an Opening Reception Wednesday, 11 November 2015, 11:30 a.m., outside Special Collections, Monroe Library 3rd floor. All are welcome to join us for snacks.

Treigle studied at Loyola from 1949-1951 and went on to an illustrious career in North America and Europe. The exhibit explores Treigle’s career as well as his personal life through the variety of materials in his collection including journals, performance scores, costumes, images, correspondence, and more.

The exhibit will be on display through the end of the Fall semester. Thank you to the first-year Master of Music in Performance students for their great work on this project.

2015-11-4_Intro-to-Grad-Studies

Intro to Graduate Studies class with Special Collections staff

New Orleans Opera Association Archives

nooa_00001001

“The date of the very first staging of opera in the New Orleans cannot be firmly established and seems forever lost to music historians, but it can safely be stated that since 1796, in the final decade of the Spanish colonial era, New Orleans has had operatic performances on almost a yearly basis. With few exceptions throughout the nineteenth century, each year the city hosted a resident company which was engaged for its principal theatre and which could be depended upon for performances throughout an established operatic season…

Welcome though these sporadic appearances were, what the city needed was a return to a permanent company, with a fixed operatic season. Determined to meet this challenge, in February 1943 a group of music lovers, led by Walter L. Loubat (1885-1945), drew up a charter creating the New Orleans Opera House Association. An inaugural summer season of open air performances, billed as “Opera under the Stars”, in City Park stadium was planned. The inaugural bill of Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci (June 11/12, 1943) was followed by three other works.  Amelio Colantoni served as artistic director; former Metropolitan Opera conductor Louis Hasselmans was recruited from nearby Louisiana State University’s faculty; and Lelia Haller, a New Orleanian who had danced with the Paris Opéra ballet, began the training of a resident corps de ballet.   The initial season scored a success, but the ever present threat of evening showers in semi tropical New Orleans prompted a move indoors to the Municipal Auditorium that autumn.  The concert hall of the Auditorium remained home for the Opera Association until the inauguration of the Theatre of Performing Arts in 1973.”

Jack Belsom, “A History of Opera in New Orleans.”

Here at Monroe Library’s Special Collections and Archives, we house a huge collection of programs, donated by the New Orleans Opera Association, dating back to that first performance “under the stars” in 1943. I have been lucky enough to have been allotted the task of digitizing this collection. Flipping through the beautifully vintage pages of these programs, one can recognize Loyola Alums credited as both chorus members and singing roles. Sarah Jane McMahon (’02), Norman Treigle (51’) and Bryan Hymel (’01) are just a few of the many recognizable names you can find. You can even find the names of superstars like Walter Cassel, Robert Weede, Eugene Conley, Lawrence Tibbett, Gabor Carelli and many more. Each program includes bios about the composers, conductors and singers involved in each performance, as well as a synopsis of the opera(s) being performed, and provides a neat insight to the life of those musicians. They also include some very hip ads from the time: a piano company that was based in New Orleans, local restaurants and eateries, clothing and jewelry stores, home radios, cars, theatres, etc…

Once the collection is digitized it will be made available and accessible through the SCA webpage. In the meantime, if you desire to hold one of these pieces of operatic history in your own hands, the same pieces of paper that were held by the hands of who-knows-who (perhaps a few of today’s New Orleans-hailing opera stars from their student days), then come by the Booth-Bricker Special Collections and Archives Reading Room on the third floor of Monroe Library to consult with one of our archivists. We will be happy to help!

This post was compiled by student worker Dylan J. Tran.

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

World’s Worst Singer?

“Some may say that I couldn’t sing, but no can say that I didn’t sing.”

So said Florence Foster Jenkins, considered by some to be the worst soprano the world has ever seen. The brief celebrity of the “Diva of Din” was a pre-American Idol example of the public ironically supporting the less-than-talented. Though the facts of Jenkins’ early life are much debated, what is known is that she was a wealthy socialite who funded her own debut at Carnegie Hall in 1944. 5,000 people showed up for a 3,000 seat venue, and scalpers were able to sell their two-dollar tickets for $20. Her triumph was short-lived as she passed away only a month later.

In 1946, the Melotone Recording Studio published a brochure about Jenkins written by Milton Bendiner. The brochure includes quotes from the press as well as Jenkins’ supposed complete discography.

One excerpt in the brochure details Earl Wilson of the New York Post discussing Jenkins with her PR rep.

“I asked her personal representative, Sinclair Bayfeld, ‘Why?’

‘She loves music,’ he said.

‘If she loves music, why does she do this?’ I asked.

He said she uses proceeds to assist young artists and, incidentally, she walked away with about 4 G’s last night. Maybe the joke’s on us. None of us walked away from that with anything except a dizziness, a headache, and a ringing in the ears.”

Just how bad was Florence Foster Jenkins? You be the judge. Two of her most “famed” performances were of Mozart’s “Queen of the Night” aria and Delibes’ “Bell Song.” You can also listen to Jenkins’ album The Glory (????) of the Human Voice through Loyola’s Naxos subscription.

Jenkins’ life has inspired two plays, Souvenir and  Glorious!: The True Story of Florence Foster Jenkins, the Worst Singer in the World, and an upcoming movie starring Meryl Streep.

This pamphlet can be viewed in Special Collections & Archives or in the Louisiana Digital Library.

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.