Farrar, Geraldine

OPERA SINGER (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
BORN 28 Feb 1882, Melrose, Massachusetts - DIED 11 Mar 1967, Ridgefield, Connecticut
GRAVE LOCATION Valhalla, New York: Kensico Cemetery, Westchester County (Section 167, Lot 1B1, behind the big Cobb Mausoleum)

Geraldine Farrar was the daughter of Sidney Farrar, a baseball player from Mellrose, Massachusetts. She studied voice in Boston, New York (with Emma Thursby, starting when she was fifteen years old), Paris (with Trabadello) and in Berlin (with Francesco Graziani). In Berlin she also studied with Lilli Lehmann after a recommendation by Lillian Nordica (she had approached Nordica in her open carriage after she had followed her to the Bois de Boulogne in Paris). When she debuted in Berlin as Marguerite in Gounod's "Faust" she was an instant sensation. She was admired by many and it was rumoured that Crown Prince Wilhelm was her lover early in 1903.

It was also in 1903 that Lilli Lehmann accepted her as a pupil and worked on the perfection of her vocal technique. Lehmann reacted to her intense physical movements by tying her hands behind her back and forcing her to express herself through her eyes and face. She perfected her attitude and her singing allthough her voice never matched Lehmann's. Geraldine stayed in Berlin until 1906, also appearing at Monte Carlo during three seasons.

Her first appearance at the Metropolitan in New York took place in 1906 in "Romeo and Juliet". In 1907 she starred as Cio-Cio-San in "Madame Butterfly" when it was first performed at the Metropolitan. She sang the part over a 100 times. At the Met she sang with the legendary Enrico Caruso. Allthough she bit him during a performance they were good friends.

When Arturo Toscanini joined to the Met as chief conductor things were initially difficult. When he corrected her she told him something like 'Do not correct me, Maestro. Remember, I am a star." Toscanini replied "Signora, the only stars are in the heavens. On earth there are only good artists or bad artists. You are a bad artist." The exact words that were used on that occasion aren't known, but soon they became lovers and their relationship lasted until 1915. There were rumours that she demanded that he would choose between her and his wife Carla and that this was possibly the reason for Toscanini to leave the Met in 1915.

From 1915 Cecil B. DeMille asked her for his early pictures and until 1920 she appeared in fifteen silent movies. In 1916 she married the good looking Dutch actor Lou Terregen. Some sources say they had a daughter, Jane, but others state that Jane was her niece. Also in 1916 she published an autobiography in which she praised herself. Her last movie was "The Riddle: Woman" (1920).

Her marriage broke down around 1920 but she stayed with the Metropolitan until her retirement in 1922. Her last performance was as Leoncavallo's "Zazà". At that time her voice was already in decline, probably because she had used it too much for many years. She sang 671 performances of 34 roles in 29 operas and this number was never equalled by another soprano since she retired. Her voice was preserved for the future because she made many recordings during her career. From private recordings made in 1942 with Marion Telva it is clear that she was also an accomplished pianist. Until 1931 she gave recitals and during the late 1930s she was radio commentator for broadcasts of operas at the Met.

Because of his numerous affais she had divorced Terregen in 1923, causing a public scandal. When she was told of his suicide in 1934 she asked why this news would be of any interest to her. In 1936 she joined the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and she published many songs based on the music of Rachmaninoff. In 1938 she published a second autobiography, "Such Sweet Compulsion". During the Second World War she was active for the Red Cross and for the American Women's Voluntary Services.

Related persons
• was admired by Deman-Leider, Frida
• was painted by Kaulbach, Friedrich August von
• was pupil to Lehmann, Lilli
• was the lover of Toscanini, Arturo

Sources
Geraldine Farrar - Wikipedia
Find-A-Grave
Arts and Culture: Christopher Purdy: SISTER ANGELICA
Farrar, Geraldine
Marston Records | Home

Images

Geraldine Farrar as "Elsa".
(c1903)

 

Geraldine Farrar.
Picture by Gerlach

 

Geraldine Farrar.
Picture by Gerlach

 

Geraldine Farrar.
 

The grave of Geraldine Farrar at Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla.
Picture by Androom (11 Apr 2010)

 

The grave of Geraldine Farrar at Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla.
Picture by Androom (11 Apr 2010)

 

Geraldine Farrar.
 

Geraldine Farrar.
 

Geraldine Farrar, "Tosca".
 

Geraldine Farrar, "La Bohème".
 


Farren, Ellen

Published: 9 May 2010
Last update: 21 Jun 2015