Home / Performers / Geraldine Farrar & Nellie Melba - Diva Image #2_profdash (Stage) [16]

Diva Image #2 Geraldine Farrar & Nellie Melba     4:42 AM
by David for group historicalziegfeld Oct 6, 2010

No woman in the performing arts earned more unstinting admiration from critics and public in the first decades of the 20th century as soprano Geraldine Farrar, the American born opera singer, who went to Europe and became a first rank star. A fiery performer, Farrar, made the role of "Carmen" indelible in the memories of Metropolitan Opera subscribers. As KoKoSan in "Madame Butterfly" she wrenched tears out of hardened operaphiles. Off stage she had a mischievous streak, a taste for fashionable clothing, and an eye for handsome men. She married matinee idol Lou Tellegen, considered by man the best-looking leading man of the WW1 era. Her every move was news. When she agreed to lens her most famous stage role, "Carmen," for Cecil B. DeMille, she received more money than any performer had been paid for any movie role previously. Her dramaturgical skills were so great that she did not need to sing to make the movie a hit. The follow-up, a DeMille treatment of the Joan of Arc legend, 'Joan, the Woman' was played to young men as a recruiting tool for the war. Rather than play Joan as a Godstruck girl, Farrar made her impressive--a passionate suffragette general. While her movie career and her marriage failed in the early 1920s, she remained the darling of the opera house for a long time, and a quotable artist good for column space in any magazine or newspaper. In certain respects the Australian Nellie Melba was a model for Farrar, a charismatic woman who excelled at the extremes of passion, could convey victimhood with some degree of seeming authenticity, and claimed one classic opera role--Marguerite in "Faust"--as her special property. Photographically, both favored half length and three quarters shots (few opera singers excel at seated singing). The Farrar Hollywood character shots were taken by C. H. Monroe of Hartsook Studio. John Garo, a Bostonian art photographer, took the early oval portrait. Greta Dupont photographed Farrar in Madame Butterly. Her husband Aimee Dupont took Melba as Marguerite. The other Melba images were taken by Benjamin "Jake" Falk, the foremost theatrical photographer living in 1900. David S. Shields

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