Tag: opera (page 1 of 16)

Farrar and Coudert in Loeb

As you enter the second floor from the staircase in the Loeb Library you will notice three photographs, each seemingly independent, yet tied in a very intimate way. Two photos are of Metropolitan Opera soprano Geraldine Farrar, the other of her friend and amateur singer Clarisse Coudert.

Geraldine Farrar

Geraldine Farrar, 1911

 

The first photo reads For Mrs. Nast –  In Cordial Remembrance Geraldine Farrar New York 1911. During this time Mrs. Nast was referring to Mrs. Condé Nast, whose full name was Jeanne Clarisse Coudert Nast. Clarisse was from a high-society family of considerable wealth. She was married to the Condé Nast, the founder of the mass media company and publisher of Vanity Fair, Vogue, and The New Yorker.

Geraldine Farrar

Geraldine Farrar, 1919

The third photo reads To Clarisse her affectionate friend Geraldine Farrar 1919, signed in pencil by the photographer “Alfred Cheney Johnston N.Y.” Johnston was known for his photographs of Ziegfeld Follies, actresses, and showgirls. Compared to many of his other works, this photograph is quite reserved. There is a change in demeanor toward Clarisse Coudert from “cordial remembrance” to “her affectionate friend” between 1911 and 1919.  

Clarisse Coudert Nast

Clarisse Coudert Nast, c. 1915

The middle photo ties the relationship of the photos together with an elegant capture of Clarisse Coudert. This photo is likely from 1915, as a similar photograph (same backdrop and dress) is found on page 9 in the October 23, 1915 issue of Musical America with the headline “Clarisse Coudert Enters Concert Field From Society.” The photographer is listed as Ira L. Hill Studio. In this same article, the final sentence mentions the close friendship of Geraldine Farrar and Coudert.

An initial gift was given in 1990 by Gerald Warburg, long-time friend of the Loeb Library and son-in-law to Condé Nast and Clarisse Coudert Nast. An additional gift of books, scores, and photographs was given by Jeremy Warburg Russo, granddaughter of Jeanne Clarisse Coudert Nast, in 2001. These photos were then framed and hung on our walls for our visitors to enjoy.

Bibliography

Seebohm, Caroline. The Man Who Was Vogue: The Life and Times of Condé Nast. New York: The Viking Press, 1982.

Johnston, Alfred Cheney. Alfred Cheney Johnston: Women of Talent and Beauty 1917-1930. Malvern, PA: Charles Isaacs Photographs, 1987.

“Clarisse Coudert Enters Concert Field From Society.” Musical America, October 23, 1915.

Oedipe à Colone, Napoli, Cambridge

A recent discovery at the Loeb Music Library came about as a result of the domino effect of space issues.

Last year we accessioned a series of Chinese music which was best housed in the music library,  Mus 549.601. Beautifully cataloged by our own Lingwei Qiu, the series was entirely in Chinese, and therefore needed the added discoverability of storage within the library. Finding space, however, required a larger weeding project. Sandi-Jo Malmon, our collections development librarian, worked with fellow librarian Bob Dennis to target librettos which could be moved to offsite storage, thus freeing up space for the Chinese collection.

In preparing the librettos for offsite storage, a number were targeted for revised cataloging and placement within the Merritt collection, as they were much older, rare editions, or had an interesting provenance.  One work, originally targeted for inclusion in Merritt as a first edition Italian language libretto of Sacchini’s Oedipe à Colone, presented some surprises.

This Italian translation of the libretto for Antonio Sacchini's Edippo a Colono was published in Naples, Italy in 1817.

Merritt Mus 575.156. Nicola François Guillard, Oedipe à Colone.

The work was donated by Col. Charles W. Folsom (1826-1904) of Cambridge in 1874 (he was an 1845 Harvard College alumnus). Charles W. Folsom’s father Charles Folsom (1794-1872) was an alumnus of the Harvard Divinity School, and is the central figure of this story.

After earning his divinity degree from Harvard, the elder Folsom served as a chaplain in the Navy, stationed on the Washington, then in the Mediterranean. His duties also serving as tutor to the Washington midshipmen, a group that included a teenager named David G. Farragut (1801-1870). Farragut would go on to become the first admiral of the United States Navy, perhaps best known for his service in the Civil War as a flag officer, particularly in the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. In the fall of 1817, after Folsom had been appointed American consul in Tunis, Farragut left the Washington to continue his studies with his tutor for an additional nine months.

Returning to our libretto, however, we learn that Farragut spent some time in the early part of 1817 in Italy. On the title page verso, we find Farragut’s signature, along with the place and date of the performance, Naples, Jan. 5th, 1817.

The libretto features the signature of the former owner.

Merritt Mus 575.156. Nicola François Guillard, Oedipe à Colone.

This libretto clearly found its way into the collection of the elder Folsom, with whom Farragut developed a lifelong friendship.

Folsom also served as a librarian at Harvard from 1823-1826, and taught Italian. Harvard would later receive donations of his work from his son and, later, a larger donation from his grandson in the 1920s, the Charles Folsom Papers, 1829-1855, now at Houghton Library.

Anne Adams, Music Cataloger, Loeb Music Library

Bibliography

Schneller, Robert J., Jr. Farragut: America’s First Admiral. Potomac Books, 2002.

Sears, John Randolph. David G. Farragut. George W. Jacobs & Company, 1905.

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