|Royal Hughes in 1926|
|Mary Garden (1874-1967) blew off Columbus|
Full scale opera productions came through Columbus between 1935 and 1950 via the touring San Carlo Opera. Organized by a Brooklyn born impresario called Fortune Gallo ('lucky rooster') the San Carlo's "Aida" could play on any stage, the public seldom bothered by the chorus of six and whatever elderly camel could be rented from the local zoo. Dorothy Kirsten, James Melton, Richard Tucker and contralto Coe Glade all played Columbus with the San Carlo, usually at the Hartman Theatre. Beverly Sills began her career at seventeen with the touring Charles Wagner Company, visiting Columbus in 1949 and 1950. Mees Hall hosed a 1954 tour of Mozart's "Cosi fan Tutte" starring Phyllis Curtin. Miss Curtin, America's loveliest soprano, remembers Columbus fondly. "I felt myself really growing and changing as an artist during those performances at Mees Hall." Maria Callas sang one of the last concerts of her career in the Ohio Theatre in 1974, repairing to the Kon-Tiki for a late dinner. Broadcaster Mary Rousculp (Hoffman) had caught La Callas Port Columbus earlier that morning for a pithy, impromptu interview, one of the the diva's last.
The Ohio State university presented staged opera going back to the days of Royal Hughes ,whose
Michael Harrison put Opera Columbus firmly on the cultural map, following a "Tosca" in 1981. The thrills were not all on stage. "Jack Hanna brought all sorts of animals for our Aida" remembers Harrison, today General Director of the Baltimore Opera. He brought two llamas into my office, and they relieved themselves in the elevator! That was the production where the tenor threatened to have me killed for firing him. The Columbus Police protected me admirably." Harrison points to the world premiere of Pasatieri's "The Three Sisters" with pride, and "I loved coming back to sing the Simpleton in "Boris Godunov" with the great Jerome Hines. That was a role to which everyone thought I was ideally suited!"
|Irma M. Cooper|
Today, Opera Columbus moves into a new era with performances at Ohio State's Mershon Auditorium. Opera IN Columbus is different than Opera/Columbus, but our hometown company continues to set a high standard.
see also www.operacolumbus.com prima donna. On a cold