Skip to main content

Collection of Geraldine Farrar correspondence and other material

Call Number: MSS 101

Scope and Contents

The material within this collection, including correspondence, photographs, promotional clippings, and articles, was primarily generated after Geraldine Farrar stopped singing operatic roles on stage. The bulk of the correspondence consists of handwrittenand typed letters from Farrar to Charles Mills (1957 Nov 1 –1967 Mar 15), and an extensive collection of similar letters between Farrar and William H. Seltsam (1930 Jun 25 –1966 Jul 22). The letters to Charles Mill concern normal cordial matters and occasionally mention performances Farrar saw and listened to, such as Puccini’s Tosca. The Mills letters also mention and describe performances Farrar worked with, befriended, or admired, including Mattia Battistini, Claudia Muzio, Emma Calvé, Nellie Melba,and her former teacher and colleague, Lilli Lehmann. The letters between Farrar and Seltsam primarily concern Farrar’s many recordings. Paper materials include one leather-bound book from Farrar to Marguerite Mills for her birthday in 1964, which contains a letter and a pencil sketch of an unknown face (perhaps Farrar or Mrs. Mills); other handwritten and typed letters, including those to Mr. Jerrold N. Moore, Mr. Howell, and Mr. Night; two ink sketches with a repertoire or program listing; a copy of Opera Newswith an article on Farrar’s death; and several articles about Farrar and the various roles she performed on stage. The collection also includes photographs, both of Farrar in portraits and Farrar in costume for various roles.


  • 1927-1967


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.


The collection is arranged in two series: I. Correspondence, and II. Photographs, articles, and ephemera.


1 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


This collection includes soprano Geraldine Farrar’s handwritten correspondence, primarily to Charles Mills and William H. Seltsam; a large scrapbook by Charles Mills of Farrar clippings, photographs, and Christmas cards; photographs of Farrar; and miscellaneous programs, promotional material, and articles.

Biographical Sketch of Geraldine Farrar

Soprano Geraldine Farrar was born in Melrose, Massachusetts, 28 February 1882. Her father, Sidney Farrar, was a baseball player.

Farrar studied in Boston, New York City, and Paris. Her teachers included Francesco Graziani, J. H. Long, and Emma Thursby. Farrar débuted at the Königliches Opernhaus, Berlin, as Marguerite in Gounod's Faust, 15 October 1901. Shortly after, she became a pupil of Lilli Lehmann, and sang Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanniin Salzburg alongside Lehmann as Donna Anna. Farrar also performed at the Opéra de Monte Carlo in 1904, singing Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohèmeand Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto, on several occasions alongside tenor Enrico Caruso.

After five years in Berlin, Farrar joined the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, where, in 1906, she first appeared as Juliette Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. She quickly became one of the leading stars of the company. In 1907 she also sang in the Metropolitan Opera’s first production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Farrar created the title role in Amicaby Mascagni (Monte Carlo, 1905), Goose Girl in Humperdink’s Königskinder(New York City, 1910), and the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica(New York City, 1918).

Farrar was engaged ina seven-year love affair with the Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini. In 1915 her ultimatum to him, that he leave his wife and children and marry her, resulted in Toscanini's abrupt resignation as principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. Farrar then married cinema actor Lou Tellegen on 8 February 1916 and divorced in 1923.

Farrar remained at the Metropolitan until 1922, when she made her farewell performance in Leoncavallo’s Zazàon 22 April. She sang nearly 500 times with the Metropolitan Opera and made many recordings. Later Farrar appeared in a number of films and in 1960 was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the music and film categories. Farrar also published an autobiography on 1938 entitled Such Sweet Compulsion.

Farrar died of a heart attack in Ridgefield, Connecticut, on 11 March 1967 (age 85). She was buried in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York. She had no children.

Processing Information

Collection processed in 2014. Finding aid created in 2019.

Guide to the Collection of Geraldine Farrar Correspondence and Other Material
written by Mark Bailey. Updated (2019) by Michelle Peralta.
January 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
This project was supported by a Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Part of the Gilmore Music Library Repository

120 High Street
PO Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520 US
(203) 432-0497

Opening Hours