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Title: Geraldine Farrar - The Story of an American Singer
Author: Farrar, Geraldine
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: _Photo by Victor Georg_

Signature of Geraldine Farrar]














_Published March 1916_


In offering these little sketches of some of the interesting events that
have helped shape a career now fairly familiar to the general public, it
has not been my intention to weary the indulgent reader with a lengthy
dissertation of literary pretension, or tiresome data resulting from the
obvious and oft-recurring "I."

From out the storehouse of memory, impressions crystallized into form
without regard to time or place, and it was more than a passing pleasure
to jot them down at haphazard; in the quiet of my library, on the flying
train, or again, beneath the witchery of California skies, I scribbled
as the mood prompted, as I would converse with an interested and
congenial listener.

It is not, perhaps, a New England characteristic to expand in
affectionate eulogy for the satisfaction of a curious public, but the
threads of these recollections are so closely interwoven with maternal
love and devotion, that this volume would be incomplete without its
rightful dedication to


G. F.


I. MY LIFE AS A CHILD                        1

II. THE DRAMATIC IMPULSE                     8

III. I RESOLVE TO SING "CARMEN"             18



VI. PARIS                                   42




X. MY FOURTH SEASON                         77

XI. LEAVING BERLIN                          84


XIII. MISUNDERSTANDINGS                     99

XIV. THE DAYS I NOW ENJOY                  108


(_From a photograph by Ira L. Hill_)        _Jacket illustration_

_Geraldine Farrar_
(_From a recent photograph by Victor Georg_)       _Frontispiece_

_Miss Farrar as a Little Girl in Melrose_                      2

_Mr. and Mrs. Sydney D. Farrar_                                4

_Miss Farrar and her First Singing Teacher, Mrs. Long_         8

_A Young Girl with a Phenomenal Soprano Voice_                12

_Growing up_                                                  16

_The Goose Girl and her Flock_                                22

_Calvé as "Carmen"_                                           24

_Jean de Reszke_                                              26

_Emma Thursby_                                                28

_Melba as "Marguerite"_                                       30

_Miss Farrar and her Mother_                                  32

_Dr. Holbrook Curtis_                                         36

_Maurice Grau_                                                38

_Five Well-known Parts_                                       42

_Camille Saint-Saëns_                                         46

_"I spent the Summer in Brittany"_                            50

_The Royal Opera House, Berlin_                               52

_The Kaiser_                                                  54

_"My Third Season opened in 'Traviata'"_                      56

_At Frau von Rath's_                                          60

_Lilli Lehmann_                                               62

_The Crown Prince of Germany_                                 64

_Cécile, Crown Princess of Germany, and her Children_         66

_Massenet_                                                    68

_Marconi_                                                     70

_Caruso_                                                      72

_King Oscar of Sweden_                                        74

_"Sans Gêne"_                                                 80

_"La Tosca"_                                                  82

_Wolf-Ferrari_                                                84

_Leaving Berlin_                                              86

_Mark Twain_                                                  90

_"Madame Butterfly"_                                          92

_David Belasco_                                               94

_Sarah Bernhardt_                                             96

_"As Pretty a Flock of Birds as one could find"_             100

_As the Goose Girl in "Königskinder"_                        102

_Kate Douglas Wiggin_                                        104

_Miss Farrar and Caruso in "Julian"_                         106

_As "Carmen"_                                                108

_Work and play in California_                                110

_Making New Friends in the Movies_                           112

_Miss Farrar and Mr. Tellegen_ (_Photograph Reproduced by
courtesy of the International Film Service, inc._)           114





I believe that a benevolent Fate has had watch over me. Some have called
it luck; some have spoken of the hard work and the many years of study;
others have cited my career as an instance of American pluck and
perseverance. But deep down in my heart I feel much has been directed by
Fate. This God-sent gift of song was bestowed upon me for some purpose,
I know not what. It may fail me to-morrow, to-night; at any moment
something may mar the delicate instrument, and then all the
perseverance, pluck, study, and luck in the world will not restore it to
me. If early in life I dimly sensed this insecurity, yet always have I
gone onward and onward, eager for that which Fate had in store for me,
and accepting gladly those rewards and opportunities which in the course
of my career have been popularly referred to as "Farrar's luck."

Yet do not think that I waited in idleness to see what Fate would bring.
From the days of my earliest recollection I have labored unceasingly to
attain the goal which I believed and hope Destiny had marked out for me.
My mother tells me that before I was five I had already shown strong
musical tendencies. By the time I was ten I had visions of studying
abroad. At the age of twelve I had heard the music of almost the entire
grand opera repertoire. By the time I was sixteen I was studying in

My earliest memories take me back to my home town, Melrose,
Massachusetts, a small but very attractive city not far from Boston. I
can recall a large room with an open fireplace and flames flashing from
a log fire into which I spent many hours gazing, trying to conjure up
strange and fanciful shapes and figures. From the fireplace, so my
mother tells me, I would stroll to the great, old-fashioned square piano
in the corner, and, standing on tiptoe, would strum upon the keys. I
suppose I was two or three years old at the time, yet it seems to me
that I was striving to give expression musically to the strange shapes
and figures suggested by the fire and by my vivid imagination.


Hereditary influences must have helped to shape my musical career. My
mother and father both sang in the First Universalist Church of Melrose.
Mother's father, Dennis Barnes, of Melrose, had been a musician, and had
organized a little orchestra which played on special occasions. He gave
violin lessons and composed, and there is a tradition that in his
boyhood days he learned to play the violin from an Italian fiddler, and
afterward constructed his own instrument, pulling hairs from the tail of
an old white horse to make the bow.

My father, Sydney D. Farrar, owned a store in Melrose when I was born.
In the summer time he played baseball with a local amateur team with
such success that, when I was two years old, he was engaged by the
Philadelphia National League Baseball Club as first baseman. He was a
professional ball-player with the Philadelphia team for several years.
Yet during the winters he was always in Melrose, looking after business.
Both he and my mother were very fond of music, singing every week in the
church quartet and sometimes at concerts.

The house in which I was born is still standing, a large, old-fashioned
building on Mount Vernon Street, Melrose, which my father rented from
the Houghton estate. It is next door to the Blake house, a well-known
local landmark. Most of my early life was spent in this house, although
subsequently we moved twice to occupy other houses in the neighborhood.

My mother says that I was a happy baby, crooning and humming to myself,
singing when other babies usually cry. She says that the familiar airs
of the barrel organs, which were played in the street every day, were
all added to my repertoire in due time, correct as to melody, although I
was too young to enunciate properly. My mother did not think it out of
the ordinary for her baby to be so musically inclined, young as I was. I
was her first and only child.

When I was three years old I sang in my first church concert. My
childish voice rose up bravely; and my mother distinctly remembers that
I had perfect self-possession and never showed the slightest sign of
stage fright. When my song was finished, and the kind applause had
subsided, I stepped to the edge of the platform and spoke to her down in
the front row.

"Did I do it well, mamma?" I asked, not at all disconcerted while every
one laughed.

I cannot remember the time when I did not intend to sing and act. As
soon as I was a little older it was decided that I should take piano

[Illustration: MR. AND MRS. SYDNEY D. FARRAR]

But at once I made strenuous objection to the necessary restraint, an
objection which in after years manifested itself in much that I
attempted. I could not force myself to study according to rule or
tradition. I wanted to try out things my own way, according to impulse,
just when and how the spirit within me moved. I could not drudge at
scales, and therefore found the lessons irksome. I preferred to
improvise upon the piano, and I had a strange fondness for playing
everything upon the black keys.

"Why do you use only the black keys?" my mother asked me once.

"Because the white keys seem like angels and the black keys like devils,
and I like devils best," I replied. It was the soft half-tones of the
black keys which fascinated me, and to this day I prefer their sensuous
harmony to that of the more brilliant "angels."

My mother offered me a tricycle--one of those weird three-wheeled
vehicles in vogue at the time--if I would learn my piano lessons
according to rule; but I had all too little patience and my father gave
me the tricycle anyhow, as well as a pony later. These were some of my
few amusements. In fact, I cared little for child's play at any time in
my early youth, and nothing for outdoor sports. I spent most of my time
with books and music, or playing with animals.

Among my animal friends was a large Newfoundland dog. One day my mother
came into the back yard and found me trying to make him act as a horse,
attached by a rough harness to an improvised plough I had made of wood
to dig up the back garden. I loved dogs, and once my mother had me
photographed seated on a large painted wooden dog.

Another childish amusement was to put fantastic costumes on the cats and
pretend that they were actors or actresses. In time there were added to
the cats and dog a chameleon, a pair of small alligators, guinea-pigs,
rabbits, a bullfinch, and a robin with a broken wing. I was passionately
fond of flowers as well, and my own small garden was a source of pride
and pleasure.

The world of make-believe was becoming very real to me by this time. I
dramatized everything. I had the utmost confidence in my choice to
become a great singer, for at all times I was busy with music, either
alone or with my mother. It did not occur to me that I could possibly
fail in achieving my object, and yet I was so sincere and felt so
impelled to try to "touch the stars" that I do not believe it could be
called conceit. Young as I was, I felt that with my song I could soar to
another world and revel in poetry and music.



At five I was sent to school. Among my teachers in the Grove Street
School, Melrose, was Miss Alice Swett, who remains a dear, good friend
to this day. She was ever kind and sympathetic to me, and I always loved
her, although I was often rebellious and unmanageable. My own reckless
nature, impatient at restraint, could never endure the order and
confinement of the classroom.

The dynamic energy, which has suffered little curb in the passing of
years, was even then a characteristic to be reckoned with; displays of
lively temper were not infrequent, but the method of punishment at an
isolated desk in view of the entire class was far too enjoyable to serve
as a correction for my ebullient spirits and was abruptly discontinued.

Miss Swett was my teacher for several years. While her affection and
trust never wavered, I doubt if she ever quite understood the
harum-scarum girl in her charge.


Only the other day, visiting me in my New York home and commenting
upon some unconventional act of mine, she sighed and said: "Geraldine,
where are you going to end?"

"Well, I may brush the gallows in the wild flight of my career," I
replied laughingly, "but I'll never be really hanged."

Those years at the Grove Street School, when I was developing from
childhood into young girlhood, were full of excitement, romance, and
expectations. But I looked upon them as a trying period which had to be
endured before I could devote myself entirely to my ambition. I was full
of both temper and temperament, and an unlimited supply of high spirits
which manifested themselves in various unusual ways--singing and acting,
idealizing myself as many of the heroines whose gracious images
intoxicated my imagination. At times I walked on air, and always my head
was filled with dreams and hopes of this marvelous career.

It was at this time that I wrote a play, "Rapunzel of the Golden Hair,"
based upon an old fairy story. As usual I wished always to be the
heroine, yet Fate had not bestowed the necessary golden locks upon me.
My dark hair was worn short, and I must have looked much like an impish
boy. Then, my dramatic vision had soulful eyes and an angelic
expression. But instead of looking like an angel I was more like a gypsy
at the distressing gosling stage, too undeveloped; yet I dreamed of the
times when I would appear before immense audiences as the beautiful
heroine of my dreams and hold them fascinated by my song and
personality. I always had the utmost faith in a certain power of
magnetism; it seemed as though from my youngest days I felt that I could
influence others, and often I experimented just to see what effects I
could produce.

The impulse to dramatize everything found an opportunity, when I was
about ten years old, in the arrival in town of the brother of a girl
friend. This boy, slightly older than I, had been educated in England
and had brought back exquisite manners and an English accent that
greatly impressed the young ladies of my class. I need hardly mention
the fact that these attributes were looked upon with contempt by the
masculine element, who had no small measure of derision for the youthful
Chesterfield. I had cared little for and never encouraged boy
sweethearts, but this youngster's exclusive admiration did arouse my
interest. I felt flattered for a short time. But alas! he was unmusical
to a degree, and companionship suddenly terminated, on my side, when I
found that he was to be neither subjugated by my singing nor thrilled
by my acting.

One day I rebuffed him when he tried to walk home with me after school,
offering to carry my books. Puzzled, he made a formal call on my mother,
doubtless with a view to a reconciliation, and asked permission to
accompany me as usual.

My mother laughed and told him to ask me.

"I have asked Miss Geraldine," he said sadly; "but she does not seem to
care for my attentions."

A few days later he went skating, the ice broke, and he was drowned.
Instantly I became a widow. Drama--real drama--had come into my life,
and with all the feeling of an instinctive actress I played my rôle. I
dressed in black; abandoned all gayeties; went to and from school
mopping my eyes with a black-bordered handkerchief; and the other boys
and girls stood aside in silence as I passed, leaving me alone with my

For six weeks I played the tragedy; and then in the twinkling of an eye
the mood, in which I had been genuinely serious, passed away. In life
this young boy had meant absolutely nothing to me; in death he became a
dramatic possibility which I utilized unconsciously as an outlet for my
emotion. I was not pretending; I was terribly in earnest. I actually
believed in my grief. Who can say that it was "only acting"?

A temper, which I regret to confess time has not very much chastened,
came to the front in my school days, to the dismay of my mother. In
1892, when I was ten years old, the city of Melrose held a carnival and
celebration to commemorate the four-hundredth anniversary of the
discovery of America. Floats were planned to represent the thirteen
original States. The selection of the school girl to impersonate
Massachusetts fell to my class in the Grove Street School, and I was
anxious for this honor, not only because of the personal glory and
prominence, but because I really believed that I could impersonate
Massachusetts better than any other girl in the class!

Well, I did appear as Massachusetts, and, with the other "twelve
States," was driven through the streets of Melrose, mounted on the
float, bearing the flag of the nation. But two girls in the school, who
had voted against me in the election, watched me from afar with swollen
and blackened eyes; I had struck them in a moment of quick anger because
their choice had been against me.


The following winter, while many of the boys and girls were skating,
a boy of twelve or thirteen, named Clarence, annoyed me exceedingly by
trying to trip me with his hockey stick. I warned him three times that
he "had better let me alone," but he persisted in his persecution. After
the third time, I skated to shore, picked up my umbrella, carefully tore
three of the steel ribs from it and, with these as a whip, I thrashed
Clarence. Clarence "sat" with discomfort for some days, and I believe
his mother seriously contemplated making a police charge against me for
beating him.

This temper--or temperament--often found expression at home in moods,
when for hours, sometimes days, I wouldn't break silence. If any one
interfered with or spoke to me during these moments I felt just as
though some one were combing my nerves the wrong way with a fine,
grating comb. My mother was wise enough to leave me alone in my intense
irritability and depression. She appreciated the extremes of my nature,
which were somewhat like the well-known little girl of our childhood

    "When she was good she was very, very good,
      And when she was bad she was horrid."

I fear, at times, I was very, very horrid. But I planned a danger
signal! One day I came home with a pair of most distinctive
black-and-white checked stockings, the most hideous things one can

"Mother," I said, "when I wear these stockings I want to be let alone."

Thus it was an understood thing that no one should speak to me or notice
me in the least while these horrors adorned me. Perhaps after a few
hours, or a day, I would go up the back stairs, change my stockings--and
the sun would shine again.

It was at this time that I was the victim of an accident which resulted
in a neat bit of surgery. My mother and I were spending a summer in the
little village of Sandwich, New Hampshire. I was crazy to carve a small
horse out of wood, and went down to the woodshed in the rear of the
country house where we were staying, armed with a hatchet and followed
by an admiring youngster from the village. The hatchet was very sharp.
My experience in carving wooden horses was limited. Suddenly the hatchet
came down and clipped a tiny bit off the extreme ends of my left thumb
and forefinger.

I screamed with agony and cried in amazement as the poor little bleeding
tips of my fingers fell to the floor, but the country boy, with
wonderful presence of mind, picked them up, and keeping them warm in his
closed hand, ran with me at full speed to the nearest doctor.
Fortunately, he happened to be at home. When the village boy showed him
the wounded hand and the tiny bleeding bits of finger, he clamped them
instantly on the fingers where they belonged, put on ointments, and
bound them tight with bandages. This marvelous surgery, without a stitch
being taken, actually was successful; the fingers healed, and now only a
slight scar remains.

I regret to say that this physician, whose presence of mind thus saved
my fingers from being permanently mutilated, is entirely unknown to me
now. Some few years ago, in Boston, I told this story in an interview,
and a physician wrote me from some other city that he was the man who
had saved my fingers for me. I wrote and thanked him for his kindness
toward a little girl; but his letter was mislaid and destroyed, so that
even now I do not know his name. Wherever he is, however, he will always
have my thanks and warmest admiration.

Finally, the time came for me to enter the Melrose High School. I
objected seriously to the further routine of public schooling, as I
wished to study only music. But both my father and mother insisted; so I
began the study of languages. I was intensely interested in mythology,
history, and literature, but I hated mathematics. I always preferred to
count on my fingers rather than to use my brain for such merely
mechanical feats as adding or multiplying figures. In the study of
languages I soon found that my teachers were excellent grammarians, but
I pleaded that I wanted to learn to talk and not merely to conjugate.

I took a supplementary course in literature, and well remember the most
important incident when I competed for the prize. I was quite sure my
essay would win. In fancy I had already rehearsed the pretty speech in
which I should thank the committee for the honor conferred on me. But
the prize went to some one else. My anger was sudden and hot. Then and
there I made up my mind that if ever I could not be first in what I
attempted, I would drop it at once. I believed my material was best and
deserved the prize, and I was hurt at not conquering before an admiring
and enthusiastic audience!

[Illustration: GROWING UP]

Thus I early learned that maybe I could not always win, could not always
be first; that perseverance must aid natural talents; and that it is
cowardly to drop a thing when at first you don't succeed. The sting of
adverse criticism may often prove the best of tonics! I have since found
it so.



Each spring in Melrose there was a May Carnival. One of the features of
the carnival in 1894, when I was twelve years old, was a pageant of
famous women impersonated by local talent. I was selected to represent
Jenny Lind and was told by the committee that I must sing "Home, Sweet
Home," but with characteristic disregard for the expected tradition I
decided to sing an aria in Italian first. The prima donna of my dreams
would naturally dazzle her hearers with a selection in some foreign
tongue, and then graciously respond to the clamorous multitude with a
simple ballad.

I had this stage effect quite planned in my mind. I didn't know a word
of Italian; but studied one song by myself from "Faust"--Siebel's song
which Scalchi used to sing in the old days and one seldom heard now. My
Italian may have been incomprehensible to a native, certainly it did not
disconcert Melrosians; my _aplomb_ was richly rewarded by numerous
recalls, just as I had dared to hope, and "Home, Sweet Home" was given
with due seriousness. I was happy and excited; I was "arriving" at
last! Also I wore my first low-neck dress.

Incidentally, this episode in the Melrose Town Hall is made vivid in my
memory by two notable happenings. The first is--shades of vanity!--that
I wore a new pair of perfectly lovely shoes that were too tight for me
(but looked so nice); so, after singing the encore, I was obliged to
retire behind a stout lady on the stage and take them off. When the
carnival was over, I found to my distress that I could not get them on
again, and I walked home in my stocking feet!

The second episode of this day really marked a turning point in my
career. A friend who heard me sing happened to be a pupil of Mrs. J. H.
Long, the best-known singing teacher in Boston at that time, and this
friend insisted that I must go into Boston and sing for Mrs. Long. I was
tremulous with joy (still in my stocking feet), and my mother and
I--breathless--told my father the news that arrangements were to be made
for me to sing at last before a real singing teacher!

My father eyed us and shook his head thoughtfully, looking at my mother
as though to say: "She's encouraging the child in all this tomfoolery."
For, while he himself had a splendid natural voice and loved music and
was proud of my childish achievements, I doubt if at that time he could
foresee the practical side of a musical career. But my mother and I were
heart and soul for the idea, and sing I would and must.

Finally came the "day of days," and it poured. Alas for the favorable
impression I had hoped to create! My hair had been tightly rolled in
lead all night to obtain the desired "crimps"; I hadn't closed an eye
from the discomfort and nervousness; and here was the fateful hour at
hand, with no vestige of a "crimp," my face pale with excitement, though
I pinched my cheeks cruelly to make the "roses" come, and my muslin
frock out of the question in such weather. I felt like a veritable
Cinderella in my plain, dark suit.

However, off we started, half an hour's ride on the train. What I
suffered in apprehension; how dizzy I felt, and what a queer feeling I
had in the pit of my stomach! I could have wept from the tension. Could
this drooping young person be the erstwhile very confident embryo prima

Mrs. Long, of fond memory, put me at once at my ease with her kindly
manner. Her great brown eyes looked into mine and inspired me with such
confidence that soon I was warbling as freely as if I were at home
alone. I no longer heeded the rain, my appearance, or my surroundings.
To my delight I was accepted at once as a pupil, and it is to this
excellent and thorough teacher that I can give thanks for proper
guidance in my early years. My aversion and distaste for the drudgery of
scales and routine manifested itself quickly, but Mrs. Long knew the
best arguments for my rebellious little soul, and, as I really did wish
to become a great and noble singer, I worked as faithfully at my tasks
as I could.

Meanwhile I began to sing occasionally in the Congregational Church in
Melrose. My mother from this time kept a scrapbook of newspaper notices
concerning me, for I was now beginning to become known as a local
celebrity. The first clipping in my mother's scrapbook is from the
"Melrose Journal" of May 21, 1895, and is as follows:--

     Miss Geraldine Farrar, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S. D. Farrar, has a
     voice of great power and richness. Many who heard her for the first
     time, at the Vesper service last Sunday afternoon, were greatly
     surprised. She is only thirteen years of age, but has a future of
     great promise, and it is believed that Melrose will some day be
     proud of her attainments in the world of music.

As a result of the church singing and the fact that I was actually
studying in Boston under the famous Mrs. Long, I was invited to sing at
my first regular concert. The programme, carefully preserved by my
mother, shows that it was organized by Miss Eudora F. Parkhurst in aid
of the piano fund for the Melrose Highlands Congregational Vestry and
that it took place on Wednesday evening, January 15, 1896, in the Town
Hall of Melrose. I sang two numbers, "Non conosci il bel suol," from
"Mignon" (I note my Italian had improved), and Auguste's "Bird on the
Wing." Of this interesting event, my first public appearance in concert,
the "Melrose Journal" of the next day said:--

     Miss Eudora Parkhurst's concert in aid of the piano fund of the
     Highland Congregational Church, given in the Town Hall Wednesday
     evening, attracted a small audience. Miss Parkhurst, who is a very
     young lady and herself a musician of considerable ability, put a
     great deal of work into the concert and its details, and it is to
     be regretted that it could not have been better patronized. Miss
     Geraldine Farrar was the leading attraction, rendering her two
     solos with great confidence and ability. For her first number she
     sang "Non conosci il bel suol," from "Mignon," rendering the
     difficult music with surprising ease and fidelity, receiving a
     recall. Her second number, "Bird on the Wing," was also well
     received. The Alpine Quartet, of Woburn, Miss Cora Cummings, banjo
     soloist, Miss Welma Cummings and Miss Parkhurst, violinists, and
     Miss Bessie Adams, reciter, were the other attractions. Mr. Grant
     Drake presided at the piano as accompanist.


I find in my personal notes of comment on this interesting programme
that I disliked the banjo as an instrument, though Miss Cummings played
well, and that Mr. Drake, the pianist, was "very nice." Even in those
days I was given to analysis.

My success at this recital led directly to another public
appearance--February 5, 1896--in the Y.M.C.A. Hall at Melrose, at a
concert given by Miss Jennie Mae Spencer, a Boston contralto, through
whose friendship and advice I had gone to study with Mrs. Long. This was
the first time my name appeared in large type as one of the principal
singers, and I was greatly pleased.

This was the first paying professional appearance I ever made; for
singing one number and a duet with Miss Spencer I received the
magnificent sum of ten dollars. But this concert called me to the
attention of the music critics of Boston, and the critic of the "Boston
Times" wrote:--

     Miss Geraldine Farrar is a young girl who has a phenomenal soprano
     voice and gives promise of becoming a great singer.

My marginal criticism on this concert programme shows that Mr. J. C.
Bartlett, the tenor, was "fine"; Miss Bell Temple, reader, was "good";
Mr. Wulf Fries, the 'cellist, was "elegant"; and Mr. Drake, the pianist,
was "nice," as usual.

These two concerts were followed by further careful study under Mrs.
Long, and then at last came the eventful night when I made my real début
in Boston at the annual recital given by her pupils. I shall never
forget the date, Tuesday evening, May 26, 1896. I was fourteen at the
time, having celebrated my birthday in February. The recital took place
in Association Hall, and I wore a simple little white dress with green
trimmings. On the programme of this memorable event, carefully pasted in
a scrapbook by my mother, I find this comment written in my own hand:
"This is what I made my début in, very calm and sedate, not the least

Following my critical tendencies at the other concerts, I find the
programme of this first recital filled with marginal comments. Most of
my remarks were very flattering to my fellow pupils. Concerning Miss
Leveroni, who afterward studied abroad and returned to America to sing
with Henry Russell's grand opera company, I wrote: "Very nice,
gestures natural." Others were "pretty good," "very fine," or "very
nervous," and only one pupil was criticized as "Bad, off key."

[Illustration: CALVÉ AS CARMEN]

The Boston newspapers always gave extended notices to the recitals of
Mrs. Long's pupils, and this was no exception. I was mentioned
favorably, but it remained for the dear old "Melrose Reporter" to give
me a most extraordinary and almost prophetic criticism. I quote from the
newspaper clipping so carefully preserved by my mother:--

     The Cavatina from "Il Barbiere," sung by Miss Geraldine Farrar,
     will interest those in Melrose who were not able to attend the
     recital. For many months musical people have waited the gradual
     development of this phenomenal voice, a God-given power which the
     child has sent forth with a freedom, compass, and quality that has
     demanded the admiration of our best Boston critics. Notwithstanding
     the florid and extreme difficulties of the Cavatina, the execution
     and reserved force, absolutely fresh and firm for each attack, was
     a triumph and a revelation of tone power. She sang without notes,
     and embraced the beautiful flowers showered upon her, as
     unconscious of her success as though she had stood among her mates
     and told a simple story. With hopeful anticipation, her many loving
     friends will follow her future which seems already unfolding, and
     as the child glides to womanhood, our little twinkling star may
     rise by and by from dear Melrose, and become resplendent in the
     musical firmament, where all the world will love to listen and do
     her homage.

The first flowers sent to me at this recital, carefully dried and
pressed, are still one of my dearest souvenirs; and I also treasure
carefully the first card of good wishes sent to me on that occasion. It
bears the carefully engraved name of "Mr. John E. Pilling," and
underneath is written: "May success always attend you." I hope Mr.
Pilling, if he ever sees these lines, will accept the long-deferred
thanks of the little Melrose girl to whom he sent such an encouraging

In my last year of study under Mrs. Long I reveled for the first time in
the joys of grand opera. That winter in Boston, the Castle Square Opera
Company, an excellent organization managed by Henry W. Savage, was
presenting grand opera in English at the old Castle Square Theater. The
leading singers were J. K. Murray and his wife, Clara Lane. I became a
subscriber to this excellent company's performances on Wednesday
matinées. To me these matinées were meat and drink; all performances
were well supported by music-lovers in the vicinity. It was Clara Lane
whom I first heard sing "Carmen," a rôle which has recently figured
so successfully in my own repertoire at the Metropolitan in New York.
During these enjoyable weeks I heard this company sing most of the grand
opera repertoire, in English, and I was thrilled and fascinated.

[Illustration: JEAN DE RESZKE]

Then came another great and unexpected joy. The Maurice Grau Grand Opera
Company, from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, visited Boston
for a spring season at Mechanics Hall. My mother decided that I must
hear Calvé sing "Carmen." The cast included Jean de Reszke, then at the
height of his success; Emma Eames, Saleza, Pol Plançon as the toreador,
and of course the wonderful Calvé. I completely lost my head over this
remarkable performance. For days and nights I reveled in the memories of
that magnificent representation. This, then, was the visualization of
all my dreams of years. This triumph I had witnessed was that toward
which all my hopes, fears, and prayers had been directed. This wonderful
creature was what I hoped--nay, intended--to become. And then and there
was born within me a fervent and earnest decision that, come what may, I
too must some day sing "Carmen" with the most wonderful cast of grand
opera artists in the world, at the Metropolitan in New York.



My meeting with Jean de Reszke is stamped vividly in my memory, since he
was the first personage from that beautiful dream world of opera that it
was my privilege to meet. Music lovers of America need no reminder of
his tremendous vogue as a man and his wonderful career as an artist. I
had the opportunity to sing for him through Jehangier Cola, a Hindu
professor who at the time was interesting Boston society with his
Oriental teachings. Just how I met him I cannot recall, but he had
personal acquaintance with many of the artists, both here and abroad;
and so one rainy morning (dismal weather always seemed to accompany such
ventures) my mother and I, escorted by Professor Cola, descended at the
Parker House where the de Reszke brothers, Jean and Edouard, were

[Illustration: EMMA THURSBY]

I remember that I played my own accompaniment and sang rather
indifferently; the inspiring "mood" was not to be commanded. Mr. de
Reszke listened politely, probably having been bored often by many
such young aspirants, and gave me sensible advice that could apply to
the average girl of intelligence and enthusiastic musical ambitions. I
recall that I listened attentively and seriously, quite realizing that
Mr. de Reszke could hardly glean other than the most superficial of
impressions after hearing a stranger for half an hour, and then hardly
at her best.

Upon his advice to go to New York and consult a teacher of whom he had
heard excellent reports, my mother and I made plans for such an
immediate change. My father listened in passive amazement, but
acquiesced, as he always has, in the belief that whatever emotional
tornado should overtake me, my mother's steadying influence would
maintain the necessary equilibrium.

I shall never forget my excitement and curiosity upon our arrival in New
York. The first thing I wanted to see was the Metropolitan Opera House.
The great yellow building at the corner of Broadway and Thirty-ninth
Street seemed to promise all kinds of wonderful possibilities and the
fulfillment of my dreams. Little thrills of hope made my heart sing and
my spirits soar as I looked at the billboards and whispered to myself:
"Some day I _will_, I _must_, sing there. My name shall adorn those
walls and spell enchantment to the passing crowd." I walked on air,
absorbed in the rosy future I was planning so confidently for myself.

The teacher who had been recommended to me for this visit to New York
was dear old Louisa Cappiani, bless her! She who had been the teacher of
many of the light-opera singers was greatly pleased at my singing, and
wanted me to sign a three years' exclusive contract with her, but my
mother decided that I was too young to have my future controlled in any

The arrival of hot weather drove us to the country; so with great regret
I said good-bye to Cappiani, and we started for Greenacre, Maine, and it
was there that I met Miss Emma Thursby. She occupied an enviable
position in New York musical circles and was recognized as an excellent
authority on voice. She was kind enough to say that she would be glad to
have me study with her when she returned to New York, and so it happened
that the following autumn found us back there, and I commenced my
studies with her.


That winter of 1897-98 was full of excitement and thrills for me. In
addition to my studies with Miss Thursby I went to the opera and
theaters as often as I could afford it. And what a whirlwind of
emotions it was! Melba in "Faust," "Romeo and Juliet," and "Lucia";
Calvé, the peerless "Carmen"; magnificent Lehmann (later to become my
revered teacher and dear friend); the incomparable Jean de Reszke;
handsome Pol Plançon; sprightly Campanari in the "Barber"--memories
crowd in upon me!--not forgetting the versatile Bauermeister of all
rôles. I rarely had a seat, but was one of the army of "standees,"
eager, enthusiastic, oblivious to all save the dream world these
wonderful beings unfolded before me.

There was one upon whom I lavished all the ardor of my youthful,
heroine-worshiping years--our own lovely Nordica, who became my ideal
for beauty, accomplishment, and perseverance. Later I was to owe to her
friendship and that of her husband, Zoltan Döme, the valuable and timely
advice that diverted my path from a provincial theater in Italy to the
magnificent Royal Opera in Berlin, and subsequent friendships that have
proved so potent as well as so spectacular a feature in my career.

Among the plays which I saw that winter were "The Devil's Disciple,"
with Richard Mansfield in the star rôle; Julia Marlowe in "The Countess
Valeska," and Ada Rehan in "The Country Girl" and as Lady Teazle in "The
School for Scandal" (how I did love her as Lady Teazle!)--all wonderful
plays for a schoolgirl still in her teens.

It was at this time also that I first met Melba, who was in New York,
and it was Miss Thursby who took me to sing for her. Much of my former
nervousness had worn away. I had worked hard and was anxious for Melba's
approval, and her impartial judgment as to the advisability of immediate
study abroad. That day, too, the sun was radiant, I was in excellent
humor, and, all in all, everything pointed toward a happy and favorable

I remember Melba's enthusiasm and generosity with gratitude, though I
have not seen her these many years to tell her so. I sang unusually
well, to my own accompaniment, and she was so genuinely interested as to
propose that I should at once sing for her manager, C. A. Ellis, of
Boston, of whose opera company, in association with Walter Damrosch, she
was the scintillating luminary. So a few days later my mother and I
joined her there at a hotel which was the temporary home of the

Perhaps you can picture my delight. I floated in fairyland; to lunch and
dine in the intoxicating proximity of these wonderful people; to watch
them, like gods and goddesses, deign to descend to the earth of
ordinary mortals--it was like living in a dream.


The eventful day came when I finally sang for Mr. Ellis. It was in the
Boston Theater, and Melba, Mr. Damrosch, and many others were present. I
was a little anxious at the idea of singing in such a large, empty
auditorium, and feared that my voice would not be heard to advantage in
such an enormous place; yet, after the ordeal was over, Madame Melba
took me in her arms and embraced me with enthusiasm and affection. She
predicted such splendid things as even I scarcely dared hope. I was
elated and grateful indeed at the general commendation, for Mr. Ellis
offered me an engagement, and that night, at the hotel, Melba wished me
to sign a contract of several years to place myself under her tutelage
and appear later in opera subject to her advice.

My dreams were fast becoming realities. But, as usual, my mother's good
sense dominated the situation. While thoroughly appreciative of the
advantages that Melba could offer me in her generous impulse, my mother
felt that I was far too young to restrict my actions and bind my future
career in any manner. Besides, with all the excitement of the winter, my
intense emotional nature and the interest I had aroused in musical
circles, she wisely thought it best for me to be withdrawn for a time
from this all-too-stimulating atmosphere, which might later prove
unwholesome and detrimental to serious study. In consequence, I was
placed in the household and under the guidance of a dear friend, Mrs.
Perkins, in Washington, District of Columbia, to continue other studies
in addition to my singing, while I was impatiently waiting to "grow up."

In the spring of 1898, when the war spirit spread over the country like
wildfire, my mother and I were taken to the White House one pleasant
afternoon to call upon Mrs. McKinley. The President's wife received us
in the Blue Room, while Mr. McKinley was occupied in his private office
with engrossing business connected with the war. Suddenly the official
news came of Dewey's great victory at Manila. The President, with the
official dispatches in his hand, entered the room where his devoted wife
was surrounded by a sympathetic group of friends. In turn we were each
presented to Mr. McKinley, and then, thrilled by the announcement of the
victory, Mrs. McKinley asked me to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner."

There was a piano in the room, for Mrs. McKinley was intensely devoted
to music. I played my own accompaniment, and, stirred by the glorious
news and inspired by the presence of the President and his wife and the
compliment of being asked to sing the national anthem in the White
House, I sang with all the ardor and intensity of which my nature was
capable. I have sung "The Star-Spangled Banner" many times since, but
only once under such inspiring circumstances, when, at that dramatic
moment after the tragedy of the Lusitania, I called upon the crowded
house at the Metropolitan Opera (a benefit performance of "Carmen") to
join me in our national hymn. Garbed in Columbia's robes, with two Red
Cross nurses at my side, the tableau awoke thunderous applause and the
great house joined in the singing with a will!



Through Miss Thursby I met Dr. Holbrook Curtis, the eminent New York
throat specialist, and became his patient; his unfailing, kindly
interest and loyal friendship did much for me. One of the amusing events
of that early spring of 1898 was a society puppet show which Dr. Curtis
staged in New York. There were tableaux and songs and recitations, all
for charity, and then came the puppet show itself, in which I appeared
as Calvé in a "Carmen" costume.

Imagine a long stretch of painted canvas across the stage, with the
costumes painted grotesquely beneath openings through which the
performers' heads appeared. Dr. Curtis himself assumed the rôle of
Maurice Grau, director of the Metropolitan, and his make-up was
splendid; various other amateurs impersonated Melba, Jean de Reszke, and
other stars. The idea of the skit was to show the trouble Mr. Grau had
in managing his company of stars. There was much amusing dialogue, and I
remember my complaint, as Calvé, was that I was asked to sing for
nothing at all-too-many benefits.

[Illustration: DR. HOLBROOK CURTIS]

In Dr. Curtis's office I soon afterward met Mrs. Grau, wife of the
famous director, and she insisted that I should sing for her husband. It
was proposed to stage a big special performance of "Mignon" at the
Metropolitan, with Melba as "Philine," and a star cast, for the benefit
of the families of the victims of the Maine disaster, and Mrs. Grau
thought that should I please her husband he might consider the occasion
a propitious one to introduce me in grand opera, as the rôle of "Mignon"
was admirably suited to my youth and vocal abilities. I had studied
"stage deportment" with Victor Capoul, and knew the opera backward and
forward in both French and Italian.

I own I was greatly tempted, and eager to make so auspicious a
beginning. Such an offer to a sixteen-year-old girl, I think, would be
calculated to twist any young woman's head awry. Fortunately, upon
reflection, good sense intervened and saved me from what might have been
a very unwise step. Granted that I made a successful appearance, at best
it could be but the sensation of a few hours; and I had no mind to be a
singing Cinderella for one night. When my triumph should come, if it
ever did, it must be the beginning of a well-defined career, and I was
far too young and ignorant to tread this difficult and dazzling path so

Nevertheless, Mrs. Grau made an appointment for me to sing for her
husband--privately, as I thought. But when I appeared on the stage of
the Metropolitan, I found him surrounded by a great many people, members
of the Metropolitan Company, business associates and advisers, and
others. What my emotions were when I passed in through the stage door I
cannot describe. Curiously enough, this time the empty house did not
intimidate, but inspired me. Perhaps I felt the encouraging shadows of
the great ones hovering about me; at any rate, I sang as I believe I had
never sung before. To every one's amazement I dismissed the accompanist
whose laborious efforts were more of a hindrance than an aid to my
"audition," and, seating myself at the piano, I continued singing to my
own accompaniment, as was invariably my habit.

Mr. Grau was exceedingly pleased with the promise I showed and
especially predicted a brilliant future in operatic singing; but he
seconded my mother's sensibly planned course for me to study more
quietly, less in public view, and wait till a few years of hard work and
experience had passed over my ambitious little head. As a kind
afterthought he added, no doubt to soften the sting of my
disappointment: "Would you like to sing in one of our Sunday night

[Illustration: MAURICE GRAU]

"No, thank you, Mr. Grau," I replied. (No tame concert appearances after
my imagination had been dazzled by a possible début in opera!)

"But it might be valuable to you to have your name on the billboards of
the Metropolitan Opera House," he urged good-naturedly.

"You will see it there some day," I replied with firm conviction.

He laughed, and certainly had no more reason to take me more seriously
than dozens of other young "hopefuls" who dreamed of some day storming
the Metropolitan doors.

Quite without my knowledge or consent, various reports of this and other
incidents in regard to my singing reached the newspapers, and I
experienced a distinct shock when I read in the New York "Herald" the
following amusing yet caustic criticism:--

     If half of what Miss Geraldine Farrar's enthusiastic friends say of
     her vocal and dramatic talents is true, then this sixteen-year-old
     girl from Boston is the dramatic soprano for whom we have all been
     waiting these many years. With all due respect to the young lady,
     a lot of rubbish has been circulated as to her marvelous, not to
     say miraculous, vocal gifts and accomplishments, and she cannot do
     better than include, in the nightly prayers which all good girls
     say, an earnest invocation to Heaven to preserve her from her
     friends, that she may be saved from the results of overpraise.

     That Miss Farrar has a wonderful gift of song has been attested by
     so many discreet judges that it is doubtless true. But when alleged
     admirers of the young singer tack on all sorts of trimmings, such
     as that Madame Melba wept with joy upon hearing her, and that
     Madame Nordica said, "This is the voice of which I have dreamed,"
     and that Miss Emma Thursby refused to be comforted until Miss
     Farrar consented to come and live with her, it is about time to
     add, "and then she woke up."

     Why not confine the stories to simple facts; that she has a
     remarkable voice, almost phenomenal in one of her age, which is
     true; that her concert successes have been extraordinary; and that,
     if youthful evidences hold good, she will some day assume an
     enviable position in grand opera? Isn't that quite enough praise
     without subjecting Melba to tears, disturbing Nordica's dreams, or
     suggesting the impossibility of comforting Miss Thursby? Miss
     Farrar is a handsome, gifted, and very earnest young girl, and if
     she has common sense as well as native talent, she will say that
     little nightly prayer, turn a deaf ear to the adulation of foolish
     friends, and attend strictly to practicing her scales. Then some
     day, perhaps very soon, this Boston girl will be electrifying
     metropolitan audiences as Mlle. Farrarini, the latest operatic

I was almost in tears when I read this article, tempered with kindness
as it was, for the stories about Melba and Nordica had been the results
of the feverish imagination of newspaper reporters who had exaggerated
the truth. But the musical critic of the "Herald," who penned this
prophetic and caustic comment, really did me a great service--and I
thank him--for from that moment I determined upon a policy of seclusion
and self-effacement; my pursuit for glory should be conducted along the
lines of modesty and restraint.

Alas for the miscarriage of such good intentions! Seclusion and
self-effacement have hardly been synonymous with my euphonious name!



The time was now rapidly approaching which was to be the turning point
of my career--a trip to Europe. Up to this time I had accomplished
practically all that I could hope for in America. I had studied under
the best teachers in Boston and in New York. I knew much of the grand
opera repertoire. I had sung in concerts and recitals. I had just turned
seventeen. The necessary training for a grand-opera career was then
impossible in America, and tradition decreed that foreign singers with a
foreign reputation should be engaged for grand opera's holy of holies,
the shining exception being our own American Nordica, then in her prime.
I decided that Paris must be the next stepping-stone; but how?

To study in Paris meant a great deal of money, and my father's business
in Melrose, while prosperous enough for our home needs, could not meet
the strain of an expensive stay abroad. It was an understood thing that
when I did go, my father and mother should accompany me. The financial
problem, however, seemed almost an insurmountable one.

[Illustration: MANON]

[Illustration: AMICA]

[Illustration: NEDDA]

[Illustration: ELIZABETH]

[Illustration: MIMI]

But once more the element of luck--or Fate--intervened just at the most
critical moment. At one of the receptions given by Miss Thursby, at her
home in Gramercy Park, I had met a Mrs. Kimball, of Boston. She heard me
sing, and was interested in the story of my ambition to study abroad. I
told her, however, that although my father was seriously considering
selling his business in Melrose, we feared the proceeds would be
insufficient for the course of study that seemed necessary.

"I have a friend in Boston," said Mrs. Kimball, "who is interested in
music and perhaps she would arrange something if you sang for her. Will
you come to Boston and meet her?"

Would I? The prospect was too alluring. A very few days afterward I had
returned to Boston with my mother in response to a letter making an
appointment for me to meet Mrs. Bertram Webb.

Mrs. Webb was the widow of a former resident of Salem. She was then
stopping at her beautiful home in Boston, and I sang for her. I was
fortunate enough to enlist her immediate sympathy and interest, and, as
I was a minor, the necessary business formalities were concluded by my
parents in my behalf. My father sold his store in Melrose and realized
a sum sufficient to reduce materially the amount of the first loan we
had from Mrs. Webb. This sum, according to the terms of a written
contract drawn up by Mrs. Webb's lawyer and duly signed by my father and
mother as my legal guardians, was to be an indefinite amount, advanced
as required, and to be repaid at an indefinite date when my voice should
be a source of steady income. The only actual security given was that my
life was insured in Mrs. Webb's favor, so that in case of my death she
would be fully compensated for the risk and loss she might sustain.

I am happy and proud to state that, although Mrs. Webb generously
advanced, all told, a sum approximating thirty thousand dollars during
the first few years of my studies in Europe, every dollar of it was
repaid within two years after my return to America.

Upon my mother's capable shoulders fell the difficult and not always
thankful task of financing and planning for our adventurous expeditions.
Thus completely shielded from money worries and material vexations, I
abandoned myself to the glory of dreams. I was ready to slave in
passionate devotion and enthusiasm to further the career that meant my
life--to conquer in song. And so unafraid, and happy with the heart of
youth, I set forth to the Old World of my dreams and hopes!

We sailed from Boston late in September, 1899, on the old Leyland liner
Armenian. She was a cattle boat; the passengers were merely incidental,
the beef was vital. It rained the day we sailed, and it rained the day
we arrived at Liverpool. London, where I spent a brief ten days, remains
only a vague memory of fog and depression. I was happy to leave it
behind and continue toward the wonder city of my dreams--Paris.

Who can ever forget the first intoxicating impression of this queen of
cities? The channel trip, the bustle of arrival at Boulogne, the fussy
little foreign train tugging us unwillingly over the lovely meadows--all
I retain of that is a blur. But it seems like yesterday that the spruce
little conductor poked his merry face into the compartment and gurgled
joyfully: "Par-ee!" Every nerve in my body tingles now when I recall the
excitement of it all.

We drove first to a small family hotel which had been recommended by
some of our fellow passengers on the Armenian. I at once took charge of
the party, and, in a halting harangue in French, told the landlady what
rooms we wanted and how much we wished to pay.

"If you will only tell me in English," said the landlady helplessly,
speaking my native tongue perfectly, "I can understand you better."

After this crushing rebuke to my French, I let my mother arrange all

We remained but a few days here--only until we could install ourselves
in an apartment in the Latin Quarter, very near the lovely gardens of
the Luxembourg and close to the omnibus stations. It cost then three
sous to ride on top of a bus--"_l'impérial_," as it is called--and six
sous to ride inside. By constant patronage of _l'impérial_ during
pleasant weather, it was possible to lay aside enough for a drive Sunday
in the Bois. In those days there was no taximeter system to disconcert,
and if one found an amiable _côcher_ (and there have been many, bless
them!), it was quite within the reach of the modest purse of a
grand-opera aspirant thus to join the gay throng of smart Parisian

The first thing of importance was to search for a good teacher. While I
had letters to various well-known instructors I never used them,
preferring to be judged on my merits. At last one day I called upon
Trabadello, the Spaniard who had numbered among his pupils Sybil
Sanderson and Emma Eames. I studied with Trabadello from October, 1899,
until the spring of 1900; and, to dispose of unauthorized assertions, I
may add that Trabadello is the only vocal teacher I had in Paris.






I also had a course of _mise-en-scène_, or preparation for the stage,
with an excellent teacher, Madame Martini, an artist of repute and an
excellent instructor in the traditional sense of the word. For instance,
Madame would say: "After ten bars, lift the right hand; two more, then
point it at the villain; walk slowly toward the hero; raise your eyes at
the twentieth bar toward heaven; and conclude your aria with a sweeping
gesture of denial, sinking gently to the floor."

Alas, my progress was not brilliant along such lines. I could not study
grimaces in the mirror; I could not walk hours following a silly chalk
line, and I refused to repeat one gesture a hundred times at the same
phrase or bar of music. Discussion and argument were very frequent--also
tears. Nevertheless, I did learn much from so well-grounded a teacher,
and often have occasion to think pleasantly of her first lessons with my
rather difficult nature.

In the spring I heard that Nordica was in Paris with her husband, Mr.
Zoltan Döme. I was in a fever of anxiety to see her, and have her hear
me sing since studying abroad. But how could I find her? By chance I
heard that she drove daily in the Bois; so I persuaded a friend who had
a very elegant equipage to invite me of an afternoon to drive, so that
by some happy chance I might speak to Nordica.

Around my neck I wore a talisman which I had worn for many years--a
little silver locket for which I had paid two dollars in Melrose when I
was a schoolgirl. At that time my cash allowance for pin money was
twenty-five cents a week. One day I saw this locket in a jewelry store
window. I said nothing, but saved enough to buy the simple trinket,
which I wore as a talisman, with Nordica's picture in it. Naturally,
therefore, I wore this in the hope that it would bring me luck in my
search for her, and soon to my joy I saw the famous singer approaching
in her open carriage, with Mr. Döme. Of course, she did not recognize
me, but as she drove by I stood up and threw the precious locket into
her lap to attract her attention.

Mr. Döme picked it up, and to Nordica's amazement she recognized her own
picture. While her carriage turned around, I waited on the path, and
soon my idol was actually allowing me to talk with her and renewing
once more the interest she had shown while I was in New York.

She invited me to come and sing for her in her beautiful home in the
Bois, and, when we parted, she handed back my precious talisman. "Don't
throw it away again," she said with a smile.

"But it has brought me such good luck!" I replied happily.

Next day, and many times thereafter, I visited Madame Nordica, and both
she and Mr. Döme were genuinely interested in my vocal welfare. The
question of my future was discussed, and, contrary to the idea I had of
going to Italy and following the usual procedure of enlisting in a
provincial theater there for experience, Mr. Döme suggested my studying
with a Russian-Italian, Graziani, in Berlin, whose book upon vocal study
he had recently received and found unusual and beneficial.

I was not at all keen upon abandoning Italy for Germany, but Madame
Nordica's advice was paramount, and, armed with some nice letters from
her to various friends whom she had learned to know during her triumphs
in Bayreuth, we made plans to break up our Paris home.



I spent that summer of 1900 uneventfully in Brittany, and in the early
autumn off we started for Berlin.

This was another turning-point in my career. The German capital was to
further as dazzling a future as my heart could have dreamed--and with it
were to come Romance, Fame and Wealth under the shadow of the Prussian
eagle's wing.

One of my letters from Nordica was to Frau von Rath, the charming wife
of Herr Adolph von Rath, the leading banker of Berlin. Frau von Rath
maintained one of the most beautiful homes in the German capital, and
her social functions were attended by leading dignitaries and officials
of the Court. It was no small honor, therefore, to have the _entrée_ to
her receptions and to have her take an interest in the little American
girl who had come to Berlin to study music.


Graziani proved to be a protégé of Frau von Rath, and through her I met
this strange and wonderfully gifted man, whose early death cut short
a brilliant career. He proved a remarkable teacher, and I profited by
his admirable instruction throughout that first winter in Berlin.

One day, in the spring of 1901, Frau von Rath asked me if I could sing
in German.

"No, unfortunately only in French and Italian," I replied. "I came to
Berlin to study, but I never expect to sing in opera here."

"Would you like to sing for the Intendant of the Royal Opera?" she

The Intendant of the Royal Opera in Berlin is the personal
representative of the Kaiser. He has the private ear of the sovereign,
and is supposed to carry out his wishes in the conduct of the Royal
Opera. To please him, therefore, would be a very great and unusual

Would I like to sing for him? It is easy to imagine my reply.

I made my preparations accordingly. With the care which I have always
bestowed upon my costumes, I ordered an elaborate blue crêpe-de-Chine
evening gown, to be worn with pearls and diamonds. I carefully studied
anew the waltz song from "Juliet," the aria from "Traviata," and the
bird song from "Pagliacci." Suddenly, to my consternation, Frau von Rath
notified me that the audience, which was to be in her ballroom, would
have to be held in the afternoon instead of the evening, as some
occasion at the Palace necessitated the presence of the Intendant there
at night.

I was desolate; but I agreed to sing, first begging Frau von Rath to
draw the heavy curtains and turn on all the lights, as though for an
evening function, so that I could wear my evening gown with the pearls
and the diamonds. I can remember now the suppressed murmurs of "The
crazy American!" when I appeared, but I obtained the compliment of
immediate attention and created the effect I wished.

The Intendant of the Royal Opera at that time was Count von Hochberg, a
charming, courteous gentleman, who was to show me many favors afterward.
He heard me through, attended by a score of Frau von Rath's friends, and
then asked me gravely if I had ever sung with an orchestra. I answered
truthfully: "No."

"Would you like to sing with the orchestra of the Royal Opera?" he

"I should be delighted," was my prompt response.

"Do you sing in German?"

"I never have--yet," I replied.


"Could you learn to sing in German in ten days?" he urged.

"I can learn something. What shall it be?"

"Will you study 'Elsa's Dream'?"


"Then in ten days, at the Royal Opera, I will hear you again." He bowed
and took his departure.

Feverishly I began to study German, aided by my dear friend and teacher,
Fräulein Wilcke, to whose guidance these many years I owe as excellent a
German diction as any foreign or native artist possesses.

When I stepped upon the stage of the great empty Königliches Opernhaus
and looked down into the Director's seat, whom should I see but Dr. Karl
Muck, now the Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. That was the
beginning of a warm friendship which has endured to this day, for Dr.
Muck was at all times kind and sympathetic during those early days in

I sang the waltz from "Romeo and Juliet," in French, the bird song from
"Pagliacci," in Italian, and "Elsa's Dream," in German. I finished in
absolute silence, as Count von Hochberg was almost alone in the darkened
auditorium. Soon he came back to me and said:--

"In my office I have a contract with you for three years. Do you care to
sign it?"

"But I had no idea of singing in Berlin," I protested. "I want to sing

"If I let you sing here in Italian, will you sign it?"

"Here--in Berlin--sing in Italian?" I gasped.

"It will be a novelty," replied Count von Hochberg. "But the people here
want one. You are very much of a novelty, quite different from the stout
ladies who waddle about protesting their operatic fate to spectators who
find it difficult to believe in their cruel lot and youthful innocence.
In you I have discovered a happy combination of voice, figure,
personality, and--eyes." He was something of a cavalier, that nice Count
von Hochberg, as you will see. "To secure you for my patrons I will let
you sing in Italian."

What could I say? It was the greatest compliment yet paid me. I glanced
around the Opernhaus, hesitating. Then--I consented. The legal contract
for three years was signed by my mother and father for me, as I was
still under age. It was agreed that I was to sing "Faust," "Traviata,"
and "Pagliacci," three rôles, in Italian, but I was not to be required
to sing in German until I should perfect myself in the language.


Then ensued a spring and summer of great preparations, for my contract
did not begin until the following autumn. We went to Lake Constance,
Switzerland, to study with Graziani. I was as thin as a young girl could
well afford to be, yet I worked to the full limit of my strength, for I
realized that my wonderful opportunity had at last arrived. I literally
floated on air that summer.

Then, too, I had planned a surprise that would especially please the
women: the matter of dress. There lives in Paris an artist to her
finger-tips in the matter of creating stage frocks, and that wonderful
woman has made every costume from head to feet that I have ever put on
in the theater. She had already "combined me" such lovely things as made
my heart thrill to appear in them!

The night of October 15, 1901, was my début at the Royal Opera, Berlin.
There was no advance notice, no presswork. The bill bore the usual three
asterisks in this wise, as I was a "guest" and not a member of the

MARGUERITE........... ***

At the bottom of the programme, in small type, the three asterisks were
repeated, and the line:--


In the simplest of dainty blue crêpe-de-Chine frocks, with a lace bonnet
over blond curls, "Marguerite" Farrar tripped engagingly down to the
footlights with a shy glance of inquiry to the ardent "Faust" who
commenced so successful a wooing with "May I give you my arm?"--and
everybody felt at that moment how regretful "Marguerite" Farrar was,
that the exigencies of the opera did not permit a courteous acceptance
of so charming a support to her gateway.

I remember that Dr. Muck conducted divinely; that I was very happy and
self-possessed, and my mother said I looked like an angel. I had at last
made my début.

The following morning the criticisms were so splendid that I told my
mother I would never get any more to equal them--and I did not for a
long time. Instantly after my success the hammers came out. The idea of
letting an American girl sing in Italian in the sacred Royal Opera
House--it was preposterous! Count von Hochberg was mildly censured by
the press for permitting such proceedings. Nevertheless, the fact
remained that I had scored a success on my début; the audience had
received favorably a "Marguerite" who was neither fat nor forty, and the
newspaper critics had united in giving me a most enthusiastic verdict
of approval.


Naturally after such a success I expected to be called upon again very
soon, but many weeks passed and still my name was not included in the
published casts given out from week to week. Finally I determined to
find out the reason for this neglect, so I called on Count von Hochberg
in his private office at the opera.

"Good-evening, Your Excellency," I remarked pleasantly. "I have just
looked over the billboards and I don't see my name included in next
week's repertoire."

There was a moment of embarrassment, then I continued:--

"I merely wondered why I don't sing," adding, "Of course, if Berlin
doesn't want me I should like to know it."

Count von Hochberg murmured something about giving me an answer the next
day, but I insisted I must know that night.

"Very well, then, Fräulein," replied Count von Hochberg positively.
"Within ten days you will sing here."

Fate was ever watchful over me, and soon I was notified that "Traviata"
was to be revived for me.

What fun I had in composing the adorable rôle of Camille. And then, too,
I was all afire with memories of the great Sarah as Marguerite Gauthier.
I had _heard_ famous prima donnas in "Traviata," but few, other than the
emotional Bellincioni, had ever successfully _acted_ the operatic
heroine. I was allowed to eliminate much of the stilted traditional
settings, and, with modern scenery and sumptuous dressing, I played this
rôle so that it immediately became one of my most popular successes. In
the romantic and handsome Franz Naval I had an inspiring partner. Our
artistic connection was to endure many years, and we have left behind
us, I can truthfully say, very beautiful memories in the hearts of our
loyal German public. I particularly recall our joint successes in
"Romeo," "Mignon," "Manon," "Faust," "The Black Domino," and such poetic

By this time rumors of the "crazy American" had spread over Berlin,
together with reports that she was young, slender and, some said,
beautiful. And then there were--eyes! The result was a notable increase
in attendance of smart young officers and Court society. The Intendant
arranged matters so that I sang quite frequently during the rest of my
first season.



It was not until my second season at the Royal Opera that I saw or met
the Kaiser. The Court had been in half-mourning during my first season,
and members of the royal family had not visited the opera house. In
January, 1903, the middle of my second season, a Hofmarshal from the
Palace presented himself at our apartment and officially "commanded" my
presence at the Palace that night. I was notified that I must wear the
prescribed Court dress, either lavender or black, with gloves and no

The Hofmarshal, having delivered his message, was about to depart when I
called him back.

"I am very sorry," I said meekly, "but I never wear black and I never
wear lavender. Neither color is becoming to me."

"But it is the custom of the Court--" he began.

"It is my custom," I replied firmly, "to wear what I choose when I sing,
and according to my mood; and I choose to wear white. Furthermore I
never wear gloves while singing."

The Hofmarshal was greatly disturbed. He was afraid it would be
impossible for me to be received at the Palace unless I conformed to the
usual requirements. However, he would see; I would be notified. And
later that afternoon came the message that "Miss Farrar could wear
whatever she desired, but she must come." I wore white.

My mother and I drove to the Palace together; we were formally received
by various flunkies and under-attachés, and finally escorted up the
magnificent staircase to the reception room just off the White Hall,
where the Kaiser and the Kaiserin were with the Diplomatic Corps after

At the proper moment I was announced. After I had sung, and had
responded to an encore, the Kaiser arose from his place and
congratulated me. He then turned and shook hands with my mother, after
which we were led to the Kaiserin and formally presented to her. In turn
we were made acquainted with the various notables present.


That meeting was the forerunner of many pleasant social gatherings at
the Palace, when mother and I were honored guests. His Majesty was
exceedingly kind to us, and seemed to like to hear me sing. It was on
the occasion of one of these visits to the Palace that I met the Crown
Prince for the first time. He had been away at school at Bonn, and
came in one evening with several of his brothers. I was naturally
interested in the personality of the heir to the throne, and spoke to
him at some length. I liked him at once, and found him very gay and

One night at the opera he sat in the royal box, and between the acts, so
I was told, wished to come behind the scenes to speak to me. The rule
against visitors is rigidly enforced at the Royal Opera, and His
Highness was so informed. He thereupon returned to the royal box. After
the performance he again made an effort to call behind the scenes, but
was not permitted. However, later that same evening, he sent me a
hastily scribbled message written upon a card showing the Palace
gardens, reading:

     You played very well to-night.--WILHELM.

I still have the card.

About this time I first met Madame Lilli Lehmann, to whose far-reaching
influence I attribute much of the success which has come to me. I felt
the need of the careful instruction of a master. Of course, the idol of
music-loving Germany was then, as now, Lilli Lehmann. I wrote to her,
asking if I could sing for her with the idea of becoming her pupil.
There was no answer. Lilli, with her extensive correspondence and active
life, was probably too busy to consider such a matter as a new pupil.
Then my mother wrote. In reply came a very concise and businesslike
communication. Yes, Lilli had received the letter from me, but, owing to
my eccentric handwriting, had been unable to decipher it. My mother's
penmanship was clearer, and so Lilli wrote that she would be willing to
hear me sing, without promising to accept me as her pupil, however.

An appointment was made for us to call at half-past nine o'clock in the
morning at her home in Grunewald, half an hour's ride from Berlin, and,
though the day was cold and wintry, my mother and I were there promptly
on time.

Beautiful Lilli Lehmann--stately and serene as a queen; with a wonderful
personality which seemed naturally to dominate every presence in the
room; past the meridian of life yet with an unbroken record of world
achievement behind her; greatest living exponent of Mozart, of Brahms,
of Liszt, of Wagner--what more can I say of her than that I approached
her with the deference and respect which were her due? I was an eager
and humble beginner; she of another generation. My desire to secure
her as my instructor seemed almost presumptuous; yet, after hearing me
sing, Lilli kindly consented to take me, and I am happy and proud to
state that I have been her pupil at all times since that first meeting.



To my dearest child

Geraldine Farrar

with all my love

Lilli Lehmann.]

Lilli insisted that I should essay one Wagnerian rôle. Under her
direction I studied Elizabeth in "Tannhäuser," and the night I made my
first appearance in this rôle in Berlin was a memorable occasion for
both of us. The entire royal family was present, and Lilli sat in a loge
with my mother. I should explain that Lilli, who had been a notable
member of the Royal Opera for many years prior to her American
successes, had had differences with the direction of the Royal Opera
during the years of her tremendous popularity in America, and had
followed her own sweet will by remaining here several seasons without
receiving the necessary permission from the Intendant to do so.

As a result, upon her return to Germany she had not been summoned to
resume her rôles at the Royal Opera. This condition of affairs, I
believe, had existed for some time, Lilli, with the pride and
independence of a great artist, scorning to make the first advances
leading to her return.

On the night of my appearance as Elizabeth, after I had scored a really
great success, the Kaiser summoned me to the royal box to congratulate
me. He knew that I had studied the rôle under Lilli's direction. He
therefore summoned Lilli as well, complimented her upon her pupil's
achievement and then and there requested her to sing as guest artist at
the Royal Opera, which she did a few weeks later.

It was a great and happy night for me, and I believe for Lilli also.

Dimly connected with this period I remember various young gentlemen
showing me attentions. There was a baron who mysteriously sent gifts
concealed in flowers, with very charming poems written about the
difficult rôles I was playing. It was some time before I found out who
he was and could return his trinkets, with the request that he cease
sending presents to me. However, he continued to write me pathetic
letters for several years afterward. But I was thrilled and enthusiastic
over my career, and had no serious thoughts for love-making or
matrimony. I wished to devote all my time and energy to my work.


SIGNED, 'Tally Ho--!' 1914


But no artist can hope to escape permanently the evil tongue and
jealousy of those who envy her the success she has won. Thus it happened
that the sudden interest in grand opera manifested by the Crown
Prince was made the baseless pretext of a wild rumor of the romantic
attachment of the youthful heir for a certain American prima donna
singing at the Royal Opera. As I happened to be the only prima donna to
conform to the description, I was the unconscious victim of many

The truth of the matter is that the Crown Prince, just out of college,
fond of music at all times, was enjoying his first season of opera. That
I happened to be the only young prima donna at the opera house may be
one reason why he attended every time I sang, and ignored other
performances. At any rate, it annoyed the other singers greatly, but it
created no end of interest in my performances and in no way disturbed my
equanimity. I felt it was all part of the career.

I was young, triumphant, happy in my singing, and making rapid strides
toward an international reputation, and at the back of my brain was
written, with determination, the ultimate goal: the Metropolitan Opera
House at New York. So I pursued my studies with zest and unabated

Soon afterward I realized from vague storm-clouds and distant mutterings
that trouble was brewing. Certain minor officials of the Royal Opera
put their heads together with certain singers; rumors that too much
attention was paid to the American singer by royalty were printed in one
of the papers; whereupon my father (remember he was once a ball-player
and is still a great athlete) retaliated by a physical reminder to one
editor that such slanders are not circulated with impunity about young
American women. The press caught the romance of the situation, and
highly colored stories were the result.

The climax of a series of petty annoyances came one night when my mother
was denied permission to accompany me behind the scenes, as she had been
doing at every performance for almost two years.

In my anger at these sensational reports, and at the sudden discourtesy
to my mother at the opera house, I determined to write to the Kaiser a
personal letter of explanation. This letter was entrusted to my devoted
friend, Herr von Rath, to be delivered by him personally to the
Hofmarshal, who would see that it reached the Kaiser.




Those well-wishers who had been freely predicting that I would soon be
requested to resign and "go over the border" because of the rumors
regarding the Crown Prince (one newspaper even asserted that he
wished to relinquish his right to the succession to the throne in order
to marry the American singer!) were soon thrown into consternation when
one of the royal carriages stopped in front of my door, to bring
official notification from the Kaiser that he had ordered restored to my
mother the privilege of accompanying me at any time behind the scenes at
the Royal Opera.

The envious tongues stopped wagging. Official Berlin society took its
cue. It was understood that I was _not_ to leave Germany.

I determined that since Berlin had been the city first to take me to its
heart, Berlin should be my parent house. From there I might try to reach
out for other worlds to conquer, but Berlin should be my base for an
international career. And so firmly did I adhere to this decision that,
when my first contract with the Royal Opera expired, I renewed it again
and again, with special permission from His Majesty for my European and
subsequent American arrangements.



In discussing the plans for my third season at the Berlin Opera, it had
been decided that I should create Massenet's "Manon." I determined to
meet Massenet, if possible, in order to get all possible suggestions for
the rôle. This was accomplished through the Baroness de
Hegermann-Lindencrone, formerly Lillie Greenough, of Boston, who was the
wife of the Danish Ambassador to Berlin. I went to Paris, and on May 26,
1903, I called on the composer at his suburban home near the French
capital, where I found him in tears. It was the day after the funeral of
Sybil Sanderson, the American singer who had won such success abroad,
and Massenet wept at the loss of such a delightful artist and friend,
who had created so many of his rôles. Several days later, when he was
more composed, I saw him again. He was kind and sympathetic, and I
studied with him with enthusiasm. He was most interested in the Berlin
production, and quite amused at the German translation of the French
text which Lilli and I had revised.



Je pense à l'admirable Géraldine Farrar

à ses triomphes,



During this visit to Paris it was arranged that I should sing for
Gailhard, the Director of the Paris Opera, and at this audience were
three other notable directors who were destined to figure in my career.
There was Maurice Grau, already relinquishing the reins of management in
New York, but still hoping, he said, to take me back to America as an
operatic star in the near future; there was Heinrich Conried, his
successor, whom I then met for the first time; and there was Raoul
Gunsberg, the Director of the Opera at Monte Carlo. Gailhard offered me
a flattering engagement at the Paris Opera, but I explained that I was
under contract for at least one more year in Berlin. Gunsberg was very
enthusiastic in his praise; Conried was quiet and formal. If I made any
impression on him, he gave no indication of it.

My third season in Berlin opened November 14, 1905, in "Traviata," when
I had my usual charming partner in Franz Naval. I now sang all of my
rôles in German save "Traviata," and, in deference to me, all the
company sang "Traviata" in Italian, which I thought a pretty compliment.

The Berlin _première_ of "Manon" took place on December 1, 1903, and was
a wild riot of enthusiasm, but my best reward was a large photo of
Lilli with half a yard of dedication written underneath. By this
time--the middle of my third season in Berlin--I had become quite well
known in certain operatic circles; I had sung in Paris for four big
directors; I had won the real affection and regard of the opera-goers of
Berlin; I was now _Die Farrar aus Berlin_, and the Berlin public owned

Herr Gunsberg, at Monte Carlo, always on the lookout for novelty,
decided he must have the American prima donna who was attracting so much
attention in Berlin. One morning in midwinter I received this
characteristic telegram from him:--

     Offer you début Bohème or Pagliacci. If you accept this telegram
     serves as contract. Four thousand francs a night.

Eight hundred dollars a night! It was indeed a fine offer. I replied at

     Bohème. When shall I come?

I had visions already of international triumphs. Monte Carlo, the
show-place of the world! From there it was only a step to the leading
capitals of Europe. Yet I had no wish to leave my beloved Berlin
permanently. Therefore, in renewing my contract with the Intendant of
the Berlin Opera (a contract, by the way, which is still in force), it
was stipulated that I was to sing so many performances each season in
Berlin unless excused by special arrangement; that I should have leave
of absence whenever requested under certain conditions; but that at all
times I should be subject to the rules and regulations of the Royal
Opera in Berlin.


Alla Signorina Geraldina Farrar

Con devota amicizia e sincera ammirazione

Guglielmo Marconi

6 maggio 1912]

I remember discussing the subject with His Majesty on one occasion when
we were entertained at the Palace prior to my departure. I had asked
(and received) permission for rather an unusual amount of leave of
absence, and the Intendant, who usually conveyed such a request to His
Majesty on my behalf, said this time he really did not have the courage
to ask again so soon.

"Very well," said I laughingly, "I will ask him myself, to spare you the

"But why should you wish to leave Berlin?" inquired the Kaiser. "We are
glad to have you with us; we admire you; we love you. What more can you
gain elsewhere?"

"Pardon me, Your Majesty," I replied gayly. "Already I have become
accustomed as a spoiled prima donna of luxurious habits to ride in
automobiles, and I don't wish to have to walk when I am an old lady and
when this" (touching my throat significantly) "has ceased to interest
the public. In the words of the great Napoleon, Your Majesty, 'Beyond
the Alps lies Italy.' Yes, and there is a white château by the sea where
the golden shower is just waiting to be coaxed into my pockets. May I
not then go and sing a little among the palms and the flowers?"

I went.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ah, that first rehearsal of "Bohème" in Monte Carlo, in March, 1904! I
was introduced for the first time to a tenor of whom I had never heard
before. He was somewhat stout, not over-tall, but with a wonderful voice
and a winning smile. His name was Enrico Caruso. It was his début in
Monte Carlo. He had sung in Milan, in South America, and the preceding
winter in New York. But he had not then attained even a small part of
his present great fame.

At this first rehearsal in Monte Carlo an interested listener was Jean
de Reszke, who was kind enough to say that he remembered me as the
little Boston girl who had sung for him some years previously, and that
he was delighted to see that I was meeting with the success he had

[Illustration: ENRICO CARUSO]

My Monte Carlo début occurred on the night of March 10, 1904. Although I
had rehearsed with Caruso, the tenor had never used his voice fully
at the rehearsals, and on the night of the actual performance, when I
heard those rich and glorious tones rise above the orchestra, I was
literally stricken dumb with amazement and admiration. I forgot that I,
too, was making a début, that I was on the stage of the Opera House,
until the conductor, Vigna, rapped sharply with his baton to bring me
back to my senses. Then I put forth every ounce of strength to match if
possible that marvelous voice singing opposite to me. I copy the
following extract _verbatim_ from my diary of that night:--

     Tremendous reception on my début. After the third act, and in full
     view of the audience, Caruso lifted me bodily and carried me to my
     dressing-room in the general wave of enthusiasm.

The Monte Carlo engagement was limited, and on March 28, I reappeared in
Berlin, being received so cordially that I then and there made up my
mind that I would never leave Berlin for good. The reports of the Monte
Carlo engagement led directly to a most flattering offer from Stockholm,
and on May 6 I arrived in the Swedish capital. My mother, of course, was
with me on all my travels.

My début, which took place on the evening of May 9, was as Marguerite
in "Faust." It was an enthusiastic, sympathetic audience headed by the
venerable and adorable King Oscar. An incident of the performance worth
recording is that I sang opposite to Herr Ödman, the tenor, who had sung
as a young man with Jenny Lind and Christine Nilsson. He was then almost
sixty years old, but he gave a most interesting performance and was
extremely vain of his figure in "Romeo" and "Faust." I must say he would
put many a younger man to shame in the costume of this romantic period,
withal being a sweet singer and excellent artist.

Two days after my début the Royal Intendant of the Opera called to
notify me that the King would be glad to receive me at a special
audience. The royal carriage was sent to the hotel for us; my mother and
I drove first to the Palace in Stockholm, and then, after we had been
cordially received by His Majesty, the King invited us to go with him
and inspect a beautiful suburban castle just outside of Stockholm, which
is one of the show-places of the world. His Majesty had known and
admired Lilli Lehmann, and one reason for the personal interest he took
in me was because he knew I was Lilli's pupil.



On the last night of the Stockholm season I sang "Traviata" before a
packed and enthusiastic house. His Majesty was present as usual. He
never missed a performance while I sang in Stockholm. During the
performance the Intendant notified me that His Majesty desired to
receive me at the Palace after the performance at a special audience.
Wondering and surprised, my mother and I drove to the Palace in
obedience to the royal command. We were ushered into a small audience
chamber, where perhaps two dozen members of the Court were already in

Presently His Majesty entered and, with a few words, decorated me with
the gold cross of the Order of Merit, which he personally pinned upon my
gown. He explained at the time that only two other singers had
previously received this honor--Melba and Nilsson.

After that there was a real Swedish celebration of farewell which lasted
until long past midnight--only, as the nights were almost as bright as
day in that far northern country, it was difficult to tell the time. I
remember that after supper I suddenly recalled that Caruso had written,
asking me to secure him a complete set of Swedish stamps, as he was a
postage-stamp fiend. When I told His Majesty of this, the King sent out
and secured a complete set of stamps, which I forwarded to Enrico with
the compliments of the King of Sweden.

As I was leaving and saying farewell, for we were to go on the morrow,
His Majesty said: "Next year, Mademoiselle Farrar, you must sing again
in Stockholm."

"I shall be delighted, Your Majesty," I replied.

"Meanwhile, you sing only in Berlin?"

"Oh, no," I answered, "I have been offered a reëngagement for Monte
Carlo next March."

"Monte Carlo, eh?" And His Majesty laughed. "My dear Mademoiselle
Farrar, my physician has been urging me to visit Monte Carlo. I shall
time my trip so that I shall be sure to hear you sing there."

What a perfect darling old King Oscar was!



The month of June found me in Paris, where I sang at a charity concert,
and in August I went to Bayreuth for the first time and was greatly
moved by "Parsifal." On August 12 my diary says: "To-day I placed a
laurel wreath on the grave of Liszt."

In October, 1904, before the opening of the regular season in Berlin, I
went to fulfill a special engagement in Warsaw. An incident
characteristic of the impetuous Poles occurred on the train, which
resulted in more than a year's annoyance of rather an amusing character.

My mother and I were traveling in a private compartment, with the door
open on the main corridor of the train. A tall, handsome, bearded
gentleman had passed that door no less than a dozen times. Finally he
passed just at the moment when my mother wished the train porter to
change German gold into Russian money. The porter did not have the
change. Here was the chance of the bearded man's lifetime. He projected
himself into the compartment, he made the change, he introduced himself
gracefully, and calmly announced that he knew me all the time as "_Die
Farrar aus Berlin_," the singer, and he wished to do everything in his
power to make us comfortable during our stay in Warsaw. He turned out to
be Count Ischki P----, a very wealthy nobleman with a most romantic
temperament and also with the persistence of fly-paper.

We could not disengage ourselves from his courtesy on the train, and he
became doubly irksome when he bombarded my apartments in the Hotel
Bristol,--the magnificent hostelry, by the way, which Paderewski built
and owns in Warsaw,--sending me flowers, sweetmeats, candies, and even
attempting to send me jewelry. The poor Count Ischki wanted me to look
with favor upon his suit. Never, outside the pages of a novel, have I
met any one quite so ardent, in so many languages.

The climax came one afternoon when I was reading in my apartment.

There was a knock at the door; it opened instantly, and in came a
procession of bell-boys--each carrying flowers, enormous boxes of candy
or tributes of some kind. All these were carefully deposited at my feet
without a word. Then, as the boys withdrew, the Count Ischki himself,
faultlessly dressed, entered and threw himself upon his knees before me
in the midst of his offerings. It was a perfect setting for the stage. I
had all I could do to keep serious as the Polish count poured out the
story of his mad love, and declared that, unless I would marry him, he
would quickly die the death of a madman.

Gently I motioned for him to arise and depart. "I fear I am only a cold,
heartless, American girl," I replied. "I love only my art, and I shall
never marry anybody."

The night I left Warsaw the poor Count Ischki was at the station to see
me off, and, though I felt sorry for him, I was happy at escaping from
so trying an emotional character. For almost a year, however, he
followed me over Europe, popping up most unexpectedly at different
places, always with a renewed declaration of his love. His attentions at
Monte Carlo finally became so embarrassing that I threatened to appeal
to the police. Then he ultimately accepted his _congé_, and I was
relieved of this all-too-ardent nobleman.

The season of 1904-05 in Berlin (my fourth season) was made notable by
the first appearance there of Caruso, who made his début in "Rigoletto."
His coming created a great sensation. I was delighted to sing opposite
him again, but there was a complication of which the public knew
nothing. With the "king of tenors" singing on the stage with me, I knew
there was another--Franz Naval--who had sung opposite me for three
seasons, sitting in a box in the background. However, I compromised with
the two by usually having tea with Franz and dinner with Enrico during
his stay in Berlin, and the artistic world rolled smoothly on.

Many interesting things happened during my fourth season in Berlin. For
one thing the marriage of the Crown Prince to the Grand Duchess Cécile
took place, thereby permanently putting an end to the little annoyances
to which his kindly admiration of me as an artist had subjected me. I am
proud and happy to state that soon after the return of the royal couple
to the Palace at Potsdam, I was invited to sing for the Crown Princess
and, as a result of this meeting, a cordial and friendly intimacy sprang
up between us, which often led to informal musicales at the Palace when
the Crown Princess played the piano, the Crown Prince the violin, and I


The spring of 1905 found me once more in Monte Carlo, where a notable
performance was the _première_ of Saint-Saëns' "L'Ancêtre," in which I
created the rôle of Margarita. During this spring engagement I
created another rôle, the title part in Mascagni's "Amica." Preparations
for the opera had been well under way for some time, Calvé having been
engaged for Amica. Five days before the _première_ she withdrew for
reasons which were never explained to me. Gunsberg appealed to me as a
favor to help him out, if possible, and create this very difficult rôle.
I agreed, and, by working day and night, I succeeded in preparing it in
time for the performance. At this special performance Gatti-Casazza, who
was then Director of La Scala at Milan, heard me sing for the first
time, but all he recalls, he says, were a pair of eyes and a very
tempestuous young person.

One night during this spring season in Monte Carlo I caught sight of a
familiar face in the recesses of a stage box and, for the curtain call,
I made the royal salute to this box. After the curtain fell, every one
started to make fun of me.

"We have no royalty in Monte Carlo," one said.

"Pardon me," I replied, "but I shall always give the royal salute when
King Oscar of Sweden is in the audience."

It was, indeed, His Majesty, who had timed his visit to Monte Carlo so
that he could hear me sing, as he said he would. The next morning I
read in the newspapers that the King of Sweden, traveling incognito as
Count Haga, was visiting Monte Carlo as the guest of the Prince of

In Monte Carlo even royalty mingles with the crowd, and so it happened
that later in the day I encountered His Majesty strolling along in a
smart gray suit, with an Alpine hat and stick, looking for all the world
like some prosperous American banker seeing Europe on a vacation. His
Majesty was kind enough to entertain both my mother and me at dinner
several times during this engagement in Monte Carlo.

The fact that I created the title rôle in "Amica" in five days was duly
telegraphed to Paris and other cities, and led directly to a most
spectacular engagement in the French capital, which must be recorded as
my Parisian début. A certain Count Camondo, a wealthy patron of the arts
who made Paris his home, had written the music to an operatic libretto
by Victor Capoul, entitled "The Clown." Count Camondo came to Monte
Carlo, engaged the entire Monte Carlo Opera Company--including me, as I
had special leave of absence from the Kaiser for the occasion--at an
exorbitant figure to sing three performances of the new opera in
Paris, all proceeds to go to charity. Count Camondo paid all
expenses, staged the opera lavishly, and we sang the three performances
to crowded houses, at the Théâtre Réjane, Paris. At last I had sung in
grand opera in Paris, even if only for charity!

[Illustration: LA TOSCA]



After a short season in Stockholm, where once more I had the pleasure of
singing before dear old King Oscar, I found myself in Berlin. One
morning my maid brought me this telephone message:--

     Heinrich Conried of New York is at the Hotel Bristol. Will Miss
     Farrar please come down and sing for him?

I promptly had the maid telephone carefully as follows:--

     Miss Farrar is at her home, and, if Herr Conried wishes to call,
     she will be glad to see him.

Later that same day Herr Conried called. He was scouting Europe for
artists for the Metropolitan, and he had been advised by Maurice Grau to
keep a watchful eye upon my career.

[Illustration: WOLF-FERRARI

SIGNED photo: Alla stupenda "Rosaura"

Geraldine Farrar

con animo grato




We talked of his plans for New York, and Herr Conried expressed a wish
to have me return to my native land. Of course, from the day I had first
dreamed of singing in grand opera, the Metropolitan had been my ultimate
goal, but now that the moment for considering so important a step had
come I was very wary. Knowing that New York was loyal to some of the
older artists still under contract, I wanted to protect my interests as
best I could while working up my career in America. I do not believe
that Mr. Conried was then very anxious to have me come; certainly he was
much taken aback when I stated my ideas of the contract. They were so
entirely at divergence with his that the interview came to nothing, and
he departed. I was neither glad nor sorry. I telegraphed Maurice Grau
the result, to which he laconically replied:--

     Don't worry, he'll be back.

Having been many years in that same position, _vis-à-vis_ prima donnas,
Maurice Grau well knew whereof he spoke, for indeed Mr. Conried did
"come back," finding me on my vacation in Franzensbad, where I had been
very busily concerned looking up all manner of contracts for America.
After much obstinacy on my part and reiteration on his, we managed to
close the contract. Besides my guaranteed operatic performances I was to
sing in no private houses unless agreeable to me and only for special
compensation; and I incorporated every possible clause imaginable about
dressing-rooms, drawing-rooms on trains, carriages, railroad fares for
my mother and my maids on tour, and in fact every conceivable concession
which the most arrogant prima donna might demand. Not that I really
cared about such items of expense, but I was determined to enter the
Metropolitan _en dignité_, and I did.

The contract was not to take effect until a year later, in November,
1906. Meanwhile, I was to conclude another season in Berlin, fulfill all
European contracts in the spring, and then secure leave of absence from
the Kaiser for three years. It was arranged, however, that I should
always be subject to the demands of the Royal Opera, and one of the
clauses of the Conried contract was that, if at any time I was called
back to appear in Berlin, my contract would be indefinitely postponed
until such time as I could fulfill it without conflicting with my Berlin

[Illustration: LEAVING BERLIN]

That concluding season in Berlin was a constant series of farewells. The
news had been made public that I was to sing in America, and that I
would be absent for at least a year. One of the pleasant memories of
that season is a farewell concert at the Marmor Palace at Potsdam for
the Crown Prince and Princess, when they presented to me a diamond
pendant made up of the letters "W-C" interwoven--Wilhelm and Cécile. The
Crown Princess Cécile, gracious, charming, young, adored in Berlin and
throughout Germany, was greatly interested in charities, and during my
last season in Berlin I assisted her in organizing the programmes for
many charity concerts.

At last came the eventful day when I was to leave the country of my
adoption for the land of my nativity. I had announced an "Abschied," or
"Farewell Concert," in Philharmonic Hall, Berlin, the first week in
October, 1906. We charged five dollars a seat, and could have sold the
house twice over. One half the gross receipts went to a hospital kitchen
founded by my dear Frau von Rath, who had been so kind to me; and the
other half went to the fund of the Crown Princess's pet charity for
crippled children. It was a wonderful and representative audience, in
which royalty was conspicuously present.

Next day we drove through crowds in the streets of Berlin, _en route_ to
the station for Bremerhaven, from which we sailed on the Kaiser Wilhelm
II, my mother, father, and I. Quite a contrast to our last voyage
together on the cattle ship from Boston! But now we were homeward bound.
I was returning to the land of my birth after an absence of nearly
seven years, to sing in the greatest temple of music in the western
world. It represented the near approach of the greatest of my dreams.

But, could I have foreseen all the difficulties that were to come to me,
I wonder if I would have been so buoyant and care-free as the great ship
pounded her way westward through the October seas!



The air was crisp and cold that brilliant November morning when the
Kaiser Wilhelm II nosed her way into New York Harbor. How proud and
alert I felt as I looked up at the mass of towering buildings, their
pinnacles sharply tilted against the dazzling blue of the sky. The
harbor swarmed with seagoing craft; all was excitement and interest,
particularly so when the revenue cutter and the mail boat were shortly
made fast alongside the big liner. The kindly purser was soon pouring
hundreds of letters and telegrams into my eager hands, sweet and
welcoming messages--happy augury! All the world seemed to smile on me
that day. Not even the persistent reporters could curb my enthusiasm or
spoil my high spirits. How we laughed and chatted, Mr. Conried an amused
spectator at my side.

An avalanche of questions, almost all pointedly personal, were hurled at
me, everybody talking at once. The rôle of the modest violet was not to
be mine, I could see from the outset.... Yes, I loved Berlin.... Yes, I
had sung for the Emperor.... Yes, the Crown Prince and the Crown
Princess were a charming couple.... Yes, I hoped to duplicate my
European successes in my own country.... No, I was not engaged.... Nor
secretly married.... Why?... Well, because I just wasn't. And so
on--endlessly, it seemed. Pencils scribbled unceasingly and cameras
clicked at all possible angles. I did not care for that, since I wore a
most fetching little turban and some beautiful furs (the pictures
wouldn't be unattractive). I was hardly settled at my hotel when the
editions of the papers were being sold, and their readers learned from
the notices, profusely illustrated (the turban really did come out
well!), that "Geraldine Farrar had arrived."

Dazed and tired by the excitement of arrival and the thousand-and-one
greetings of welcoming friends, I could think of but one thing, my
début. It pursued me by day and haunted my sleepless nights. No one can
imagine what anguish I endured once I was alone, and how difficult it
was to discuss the event with an airy indifference to outsiders. I told
myself there was nothing to fear; that my home people would love and
support me as had my loyal Berliners. If only the trying ordeal were




To my disappointment "Romeo and Juliet" had been chosen, not only for my
début, but for the opening performance of the season as well. In vain I
pleaded that, under such a strain I should acquit myself much better in
Elizabeth ("Tannhäuser"), which I had just sung in Berlin and Munich
with great success. Mr. Conried was obdurate, however; he said I must be
presented in a spectacular production, and so I had to give in.

I shall always remember my first rehearsal in the dimly-lighted ladies'
parlor. The suave and elegant Pol Plançon (the Friar) and my friend,
Josephine Jacoby, greeted me, and then Rousselière, of Monte Carlo days,
who was making his début as well, as my "Romeo." We were both
frightfully nervous and longed for the day to be over.

November 26, 1906, however, did finally arrive. I drove to the opera and
slipped into my gown--not the usual conventional robe of stiff white
satin, but a heavenly concoction that my clever wizard of a dressmaker
had faithfully and beautifully modeled after a Botticelli painting. A
misty veiling of rose delicately traced with silken flowers and
sprinkled with tiny diamonds sheathed my figure of fortunate slenderness
(thanks be!), while a jeweled fillet of gold rested on my own dark hair,
and a tiny curling feather waved alertly on my forehead. And so "La
Bella Simonetta" came to life, along the Capulet halls, transported for
the nonce to the twentieth century and Broadway. A rain of welcoming
applause greeted me and told me that so far all was well!

I cannot remember distinctly all that occurred that auspicious evening.
There seemed to be cart-loads of flowers; and again and again I smiled
out from the great yellow curtains. Mr. Conried congratulated me, and
the great evening was over!

I was at home.

Now I was to drag out some uninspiring weeks in such operas as "La
Damnation de Faust," "Faust," and "Juliette," all of no particular
interest to me.

The real bright spot in the season was the first production of "Madame
Butterfly" on the 11th of February, 1907. This charming opera was to
endear me later to all my audiences and firmly establish me in the favor
of the whole country. However, at the time no such encouraging and
pleasing vision was vouchsafed me.


I slaved with ardor and enthusiasm, studying Oriental characteristics
and gestures with a clever little Japanese actress, Fu-ji-Ko, and
incorporating as much as was possible of her counsels in my portrayal
of the hapless "Cio-cio-San." _Maestros_ came and went, as did Mr.
Ricordi, the publisher, and Mr. Puccini. Everybody had a hand in the
pie, till I was nearly out of my mind with all the many advisers. But I
left nothing undone (that I could imagine!) to make my rôle as perfect
as possible. Caruso and Scotti had already shared with Destinn the
success of the London production, so it remained for Louise Homer and
myself to make the most of that charming second act, which is so
poignant a scene between the two women.

"Madame Butterfly" was a triumph for us all, and for me in particular.
There were flowers, laurel wreaths (one with a darling little flag of
Nippon tucked away in the green leaves), thanks from author, directors,
and so on, embraces, applause, excitement--all the usual hubbub of a
successful _première_.

Somehow I got home and sobbed myself to sleep on my mother's shoulder,
utterly worn out by the nervous strain and cruel fatigue of the previous

Ah! Adorable, unforgettable blossom of Japan! Thanks to your gentle
ways, that night I placed my foot on the rung of the ladder that leads
to the firmament of stars! When I don your silken draperies and voice
your sweet faith in the haunting melodies that envelop you, then are all
eyes dim and hearts atune to your every appeal for sympathy!

"Butterfly" brought me in touch as well with that past master of
stagecraft, David Belasco. To my great delight he was enthusiastic over
my portrayal of this little heroine who was the child of his heart and
brain in the drama.

I may own that every time we meet and he says, half laughingly, half
quizzically, "Well, when are you going to forsake opera and come into
the drama?" I am almost tempted to make an experiment of such interest,
for the theater has always made a strong appeal to my dramatic

Who knows? Some day may see me a candidate for such honors if I take his
invitation seriously!

Meanwhile, I was wondering just how my artistic status was going to grow
under conditions prevailing in our opera house. My repertoire was
extensive in my contract, but limited on the actual billboards, owing to
a predominance of prima donnas. Patience, with a big P, did not seem to
help my ambitions much.


SIGNED PHOTO: To Gerladine Farrar

Our American born

song bird in whose art I glory.


David Belasco.]

Finally the company went on the annual spring tour, and I have a
confused remembrance of much traveling, new audiences and hard work.
I loved Chicago from the first, and its enthusiastic support is always
reliable, whether I visit there in opera or in concert.

During the winter Gailhard had negotiated and secured my services for a
special spring season, so that after the Metropolitan season I was to
realize another cherished ambition and appear in the regular repertoire
of the Paris Opera.

With these plans for the spring, Berlin in the autumn, and New York all
winter, I was running perilously near the danger line of overwork. My
physician advised caution, less work and more absolute rest, not to take
my career so strenuously, as even my exuberant spirits would not
indefinitely respond to my madly driven energy.

But I could not then call a halt. My star was waxing. I must go on. I
would pay the penalty later--and I did!

My Paris début was effected under difficulties. The steamer was delayed;
my trunks went astray; and, to add to my distress, three polite
gentlemen took the trouble to meet me at Cherbourg, to tell me I had a
day to arrive in, one day to rehearse, and the third day in which to
persuade "La Ville Lumière" of my artistic worth. But the occasion was
like a whip to a race-horse. It never occurred to me to refuse, despite
my consternation.

Fortunately that shrewd dressmaker of mine, with admirable foresight
(and second-sight as well, perhaps!) had "completed a whole 'Juliet'
outfit for immediate use--don't worry," read the telegram. I could have
hugged her!

I hummed a few scales on the dock, and, with a sigh of relief that all
was in order (for I had constant nightmares that I should lose my voice
some day unexpectedly), I clambered into the overcrowded express and
slumbered peacefully till our early morning arrival. That day I went
gayly to the rehearsal, and the following evening (not without much
nervous anguish) was greeted with the greatest enthusiasm by a
representative audience.

An interested listener was Gounod's son, who afterward paid me such
delicate and charming compliments as made my ears burn.

I had become a Parisian personage, and I allowed myself to enjoy
childishly the adulation and pretty attentions that were showered on me.
My woman's vanity was pleased enough at the lovely chiffons and bonnets
these ingenious people of the rue de la Paix evolved for my special
pleasure. What with fashionable soirées at which I was petted and
spoiled, and the parties and teas where my presence seemed to evoke
whispers of admiration and envy, I might well have had my youthful head
turned to a dizzy angle.


Signed, À la charmante Farrar

souvenir d'une grande amitié

Sarah Bernhardt,


But I had my New England "thinking-cap" firmly set on my shoulders. A
little of this charming frivolity was enough, and one fine day I
disappeared--back to the simple life of study and quiet with the great
Lehmann; I shed the iridescence of my butterfly wings and became, for
the nonce, a hard-working grub!

My stay in Paris was memorable to me as well by reason of the meeting
with Sarah Bernhardt.

My admiration for this wonderful woman had ever been of the most fervent
heroine worship, and when Madame Grau said: "Sarah wants to know you;
when will you lunch with her?" I set the following day, for fear she
might change her mind and I might thereby lose this privilege.

I see her still, standing slim and white in her long curling draperies
at the entrance to her home, her keen eyes appraising me, her voice
raised in cordial greeting. How we chattered! What things she had to
say, and with what joy I listened!

She knew all about "Juliet"--much to my surprise--even to details, such
as dress, innovations in _mise-en-scène_, and how I tried to infuse the
modern dramatic spirit into the measures of the opera. Then the
conversation wandered to personalities; among the most cherished, our
mutual great-hearted friend Coquelin, now, alas! gone to his last sleep
these many years; books, and her obstreperous dogs, most conspicuous by
their noisy presence. I was to enjoy her friendship from that day on. As
I write, a recent photograph stands before me, bearing a tender
inscription. A smile plays upon her face, despite her recent tragic
affliction. She is in truth an element, ageless, fearless, dauntless!

It was good to be back for a short season in the autumn in Berlin,
previous to my second departure for New York. The demonstration of the
loyal Berliners at my return was beautiful, despite successes elsewhere.
I was always to them "_unsere Farrar_."



My second Metropolitan season opened pleasantly with a neat little
success in the comparatively small rôle of Marguerite in "Mefistofele,"
which was produced for the benefit of Chaliapine, the great Russian
basso. Unfortunately, owing to his dissatisfaction and disappointment at
musical matters in general, nothing would induce him to return to
America, and we thereby lost an artist unique in all he attempted and
unparalleled in some of his typical Russian creations, such as "Boris"
and "Ivan the Terrible."

January, 1908, saw me on my native heath in Boston. I sang four
performances in six days--"Faust," "Madame Butterfly," "Elizabeth,"
"Pagliacci"--and the reception was a tornado of enthusiasm, to which the
historic walls of the old Boston Theater resounded. The conservative Hub
did not deserve such an appellation in the case of my welcome. I was
filled with pride and gratitude.

My own home town also wanted to share in the festivities; whereupon a
concert was arranged, and I returned to sing in the brick town hall
that had first sheltered my early efforts. At the close of the programme
I shook hands with every man, woman, and child who desired a close
scrutiny and personal greeting--and you may be sure I was not allowed to
abandon my place on the stage till all had availed themselves of this

The following morning the Mayor and several prominent townspeople called
for me, and we visited the pupils of my former schools. They were all
ready, in line, to greet me, flags in their hands.

When an address was suggested, I arose with alacrity--and introduced my
friend Kate Douglas Wiggin, as speaker. Despite her surprise she rose
gracefully to the occasion in a most flattering little speech, to the
delight of her youthful hearers. I was, indeed, most fortunate to have
had a Mistress of Ceremonies of such tact and charm.

Meanwhile Mr. Conried's failing health was necessitating a change of
management at the Metropolitan, and the choice fell upon Mr.
Gatti-Casazza, of La Scala, Milan, in conjunction with Andreas Dippel,
the latter a member of our company and very popular with New York
audiences. With contracts for Berlin, Paris, and New York, the old cry
of "overwork" was dinned into my ears, but less than ever was the
moment for immediate rest possible. I was about to make a new contract
with the Metropolitan under a different management, new artists were
engaged who might reasonably be supposed to share some of the repertoire
which I had not yet sung.


It behooved me to keep well within the public eye and to make my
position as advantageous as I could under the new régime.

Not having acquaintance with Mr. Gatti-Casazza, I preferred signing my
engagement with Mr. Dippel; but all our arguments came to naught when he
found I was firm in my proposals to improve upon the old contract, and I
sailed away in May with no more definite answer than "_Au revoir_ in
Paris" to him.

While singing there at the Opéra Comique, we again went over the same
ground--futilely; and it was not till the following July in Berlin that
I was able to arrange a several years' engagement which, in the light of
the last years, I may reasonably conclude has been to nobody's

My third Metropolitan season started unhappily. I arrived ill and
fagged; lamentable altercations took place between the new conductor,
Mr. Toscanini, and myself, each having quite opposite ideas as to the
merits of conductor and prima donna, respectively. The estrangement was
complete after the opening performance of "Madame Butterfly," when we
both lost our manners and our tempers in high-handed fashion.

Outside influences fanned resentment to a white heat, at least on my
part; I was in a fury. The papers gave space to stupid fabrications and
stories purporting to emanate from those speaking with authority, whose
names, however, one could never discover.

Ill in mind and health, I was vexed enough to offer to buy my release
from such bondage as I now lived in artistically. I was far from happy,
and when I am not happy I cannot sing well. My one idea was to escape
from all this turbulence and what seemed to me to be a hotbed of
intrigue. I was a rebel, yes; but I was no dissembler, and I hated to
come into contact with those in authority under present conditions.
Every performance was an occasion of dread; things looked very dark for
my peace of mind.


Needless to say, I was not granted a release, but must struggle on
during the closing weeks of the spring. I resigned myself to finish the
season as best I could, but I was quite decided that when the roll
call came the following autumn I would spend my winter quietly in
Berlin. That was all to be changed, however, by the very unexpected and
friendly overtures which Mr. Toscanini, to my great surprise, made one
memorable evening of "Madame Butterfly" in Chicago.

When two ardent and honest workers are desirous of eliminating
misunderstandings it is not difficult to arrive at a solution. The
various phases of the seething disquiet that had prevailed between us
were discussed with commendable frankness on both sides. I need not add
that the result was a happy one, and I thereby gained a firm friend and
an invaluable ally in my work.

We sealed our differences in a joint curtain call, that same evening,
before a jammed house that was fully aware of the significance of our
unusual appearance together, and gave way to tumultuous and approving

It would be difficult to estimate justly the influence Mr. Toscanini has
had in the musical development of our opera, the artistic direction of
which he rightly controls. Personally I am, as in the case of Lilli
Lehmann, far more indebted to him than I can properly place in words,
certainly more than he, with a morbid dislike for any public attention
to himself, would perhaps allow me to admit.

Lehmann--Bernhardt--Toscanini! These are names to conjure with in the
career of a young artist!

       *       *       *       *       *

Events in the operatic aviary were now destined to proceed more or less
smoothly for me--for a while at least. In the spring of 1909 I was urged
to give some special performances of "La Tosca" at the Opéra Comique in
Paris, with Antonio Scotti in his admirable characterization of Scarpia.
The success of the opera was most gratifying, and was in no wise
overshadowed by the presence of the Metropolitan Company, which had come
from the United States to sing in Paris at the same time.

That same spring, before sailing, Toscanini had asked me to sing
Puccini's "Manon" with the Metropolitan Company during its Paris season.
But the rôle was unfamiliar to me, and as I had monopolized the more
popular Massenet's "Manon," I felt I could not undertake its preparation
in six days of ocean travel, together with my promised performances of
Tosca at another theater. Toscanini quite understood this, made no
further insistence, and the charming Lucretia Bori was introduced to
the Parisian public and later came to delight her New York admirers.


What transpired to offend Puccini I never knew, but the trivial question
of my not singing his "Manon" provoked our first argument relative to
"The Girl of the Golden West." The production of this long-awaited opera
from the popular composer was the one topic of discussion and
speculation in musical circles, its _première_ being scheduled for the
following autumn in New York.

While I had never had the promise of the rôle, the very subject and its
appeal to the American public would seem to have indicated the choice of
a native prima donna. Not only I, but a large majority of an interested
public expected it. However, Puccini himself dispelled any such illusion
by opening an argument, while I was singing in a drawing-room, to the
effect that I had refused to sing his "Manon" because I had not been
asked to create "The Girl." This was really a little too much, and I
retorted that such was not the case, but that it might be well for him
to consider the eventual popularity of his work with an American singer
as the heroine, and that I was not aware he had changed his usual suave
style of composition to such an extent that the most popular "Madame
Butterfly" could not cope with its difficulties. With this I sailed out
of the room.

Possibly the crowded aspect of the house at some performances at which I
sang the following autumn, and which he attended, modified his opinion,
for he was effusive in compliments and photographs, and the slight cloud
blew over without further parley.

Afterward I was to be consoled by as gratifying a success as my heart
could wish as the "Goose Girl." December 28, 1910, saw the _première_ of
the charming "Königskinder," which enchanted the audience by reason of
its lovely simplicity and the introduction of live geese--no less!


Professor Humperdinck was not a little taken aback when I first
mentioned that I intended having these live geese which were, according
to my plan, to move naturally and unconfined about the stage. Mr. Hertz,
the conductor, was much perturbed and objected to the noise and
confusion they might create; but Mr. Gatti was resigned to my whim and
gave assent. So with the help of our technical director and the "boys"
behind the stage I had as pretty a flock of birds as one could find on
any farm. When the curtain rose upon that idyllic forest scene, with the
goose girl in the grass, the geese unconcernedly picking their way
about, now and again spreading snowy wings, unafraid, the house was
simply delighted and applauded long and vigorously. Not to be overlooked
was the sympathetic appeal of the children's beloved Fiddler, in the
person of Goritz. This operatic fairy-tale held an enviable place in the
regular repertoire for three years, and was one of my happiest

Following this I was to create a work of a type quite different from any
other I had ever essayed. Had it not been for Toscanini's urging I
should hardly have chosen "Ariane et Barbe Bleue" as a medium for my
ambitions. While the production was highly interesting, I cannot say
that I am much in sympathy with the vague outlines of the modern French
lyric heroines; "Mélisande" and "Ariane" I think can be better entrusted
to artists of a less positive type.



The season of 1913-14 came very near proving disastrous for me. After
repeated danger signals, at last overtaxed Nature took her revenge. I
was unable to cope successfully with a bad attack of bronchitis, which
made me lose the opening night. Some days afterward, still ill, I was
obstinate enough to insist on a "Madame Butterfly" performance, and I
collapsed completely in a "Faust" performance later that same week.

I shall never forget my state of mind. Despair overcame me. The awful
nightmare had come to pass. I should probably never sing again! Then
there flashed through my mind: How should I endure this enforced
inactivity? Daily, hourly, I waited, and watched, and coaxed a
betterment of my physical condition, which, after all, was at the bottom
of my minor vocal troubles. Outside, a generous and affectionate public
had not forgotten me, while Mr. Gatti was most kind and patient with
this fretful songbird.

[Illustration: "CARMEN"]

One day I judged myself at last ready to venture a performance. Upon my
appearance I was greeted with such welcoming applause as threatened to
interfere with my continuance of the opera. My heart was full of
gratitude as I bowed and bowed my thanks. By dint of care and caution I
was able to finish the season with credit, even taking the fatiguing
trip to Atlanta, Georgia, prior to sailing, in order not to disappoint
that loyal and enthusiastic public. That year, too, was the American
_première_ of the long-awaited sequel to "Louise"--"Julian," a
hodge-podge of operatic efforts that brought little satisfaction to
anybody concerned in it. To my surprise the repellent characterization
of the gutter-girl in its last act moved some critical craniums to
speculate favorably on the ultimate success of "Carmen," should I ever
attempt this rôle.

My summer was a long one of quiet and absolute rest. When I was ready to
sail home Europe was beginning to seethe in her terrible conflict. I
raced from Munich to Amsterdam to get an available neutral steamer; but
the prevailing confusion and panic occasioned by the fall of Antwerp and
mine disasters in the northern waters made it advisable for me to follow
Mr. Gatti's insistent message to join him and the company immediately at

Ah, that journey to the end of Italy! Shall I ever forget it?
Fortunately, Mr. Gatti had been able to assemble all his songsters--with
the exception of Gilly, our French barytone, a prisoner of war in
Austria--and we were to enjoy an agreeable and uneventful ocean trip

It was while on shipboard, discussing the repertoire, that Toscanini
suggested the immediate preparation of "Carmen" for my first appearance
of the season. I jumped at the idea, the more so since I should have a
rôle I had always longed to sing and which favored me as I had rarely
been favored. Here was indeed an occasion to refute many an unkind rumor
that I had lost my voice and would never sing again. And as for the
acting, and looking--well, I smiled into the miserable little glass in
my stateroom that did duty as a mirror, and blew myself a kiss of
congratulation! Daily rehearsals were called, and I worked like a slave
in the little stuffy dining-room of the ship to the accompaniment of a
piano no better than it should be.

Many a gypsy had come and gone, leaving New York mildly indifferent.
There had been but one fascinating, unforgettable creature within our
memory, the incomparable Calvé! Not one leaf of her coronet of laurel
had so much as quivered!


The eventful evening came at last, and I need not dwell upon the
wonderful success that attended the brilliant revival of this well-loved
opera under Toscanini's splendid direction.

Later in the same season was to come the amusing "Madame Sans Gêne,"
chiefly interesting for its novelty and touches of comedy.

Added to the fortunate operatic successes, I had made several concert
_tournées_, my contract with the record-makers had been rigidly kept,
and to succeed in all these artistic directions, the well-being of the
voice had ever primarily to be considered.

When the fateful time came that I paid the toll of overwork and my
throat was temporarily crippled, my mind was doubly alive and in acute
anguish. Inactivity to me has always been something not to be borne. I
must have a vital interest with which to stimulate my energies and

It was during those discouraging days that I bethought me of the very
ardent advances that had been made to me relative to the moving
pictures. Perhaps there was another field of expression, not to mention
the very flattering financial considerations that were to accompany the
offer, did I allow myself to be persuaded.

No small amount of half-hearted condemnation and significant shoulder
shrugging accompanied the announcement that I might seriously consider
such a proposal.

"Oh, Geraldine! How can you?" I heard on every hand.

But why shouldn't I? I have never been the overcautious prima donna,
swathed in cotton, silent, save for singing, for fear of undue fatigue
upon the voice--the human vocalizer! No. I like the novel and the
unusual always, and I _adore_ to act!

My friendship with the family of David Belasco, and his son-in-law, Mr.
Gest, having large interests in the moving pictures, led me finally to
accede to their request; and I signed a contract which promised to be
(and fulfilled happily!) as successful a venture as any I have ever

My arrival in Los Angeles, the beautifully appointed house there, the
special studio built for my privacy and convenience are of too recent an
interest to reiterate here. The experience itself was novel and
refreshing, with its own unusual dramatic procedure. I sang and
declaimed my rôle in French or Italian as I chose. There was no curtain
to go up! The director-general replaced the harassed stage manager and
gave the signal: "Camera! Go!" No fiery leader overwhelmed me with the
feverish tempest of his orchestra; just a watchful operator warily
turning the crank of his machine while I evolved my "scenes" as I


My "Carmen" has made her screen début, and many of you have doubtless
seen it. I have been delighted at its success, and feel that its
artistic excellence and the enthusiastic approbation it has met speak
loudly enough in favor of my departure from the usual routine of the
prima donna.

I have been asked, in summing up these experiences of my artistic
career, so far, if it has all been worth while? From my point of view,
yes. That is, what you believe to be the most complete fulfillment of
yourself and the gratification of your ambitions is always worth while.
Fortunately for me the adventurous and inquiring turn of my mind does
not allow my ambitions to become narrowed or stationary, and that may
possibly account for the unusual phases in my musical career.

It is, however, distinctly _not_ worth while, to my mind, unless Fortune
smiles upon you in abundance, for art is not the medium stratum of life,
but its flowered inspiration and emotional poetry: it demands and
obtains its sacrifices and sorrows which modify and chasten its glory,
and your own soul best knows the toll you pay.

Personally I would not encourage the graduate of the church choir, or
the youthful miss with the pretty voice and smug mind, to embark upon a
grand-opera career, such as I have come to understand it. By that, I
mean the exceptional career that demands the big outlook and risk in all
one attempts--the sacrifices, the unceasing toil, an iron constitution,
invulnerable nerves, to say nothing of the financial security involved,
according to the magnitude of the undertaking. With the many who earn a
comfortable livelihood by their agreeable song I have no question,
being, as I said before, solely concerned with the exceptional gift that
will not be denied, that brushes aside all obstacles, to proceed on the
path of wide appeal in any branch of art or occupation.

When intelligent people will begin to open their minds and refuse to be
cajoled by flattery and hypocrisy as to what constitutes "an artistic
career," it may be better for American art in general and easier for the
girl who cherishes high ambitions.

How many aimless letters fill the musical columns with admirable advice
on a profession of which the writers betray their naïve ignorance by the
general vacuity of their remarks, when presuming to measure an artist's
impulses and inspirations by their own personal standards and
emotions! Let the artist develop in his own orbit, according to his
light, nor criticize the method of the fruition of those gifts he so
generously flings to his hearers.


And now, in closing, I have purposely left till the last, my
affectionate tribute of gratitude and remembrance toward that vital
factor in these later years of my career, whose esteem constantly spurs
me on to my best efforts and whose support I trust I may enjoy for many
years to come: the discerning, generous and appreciative American

     NOTE: Soon after writing the last pages of this book Miss Farrar
     announced her engagement to Mr. Lou Tellegen, a talented young
     actor well known to Americans since he first came here five or six
     years ago as leading man with Madame Sarah Bernhardt. The picture
     on the preceding page was taken at the City Hall, New York, just
     after Miss Farrar and Mr. Tellegen had secured their marriage
     license. They were married at Miss Farrar's home February 8.

The Riverside Press


U. S. A

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