MARY GARDEN OPERA SINGER
LEL, I'm absolutely chuffed* that the info on Mary Garden is available on a website. I'd have done it myself years ago if I had known how to do it, so it's brilliant that
someone's made this information more widely available. Thanks so much!
And a huge thank you Haytoner. The cuttings just get better and better. In fact, this is getting so good that it's time I lowered the tone:-
(* Which reminds me. Did you hear about the man whose greatest ambition was to be run down by a steam train?
When it finally happened he was chuffed to bits....).
...and to make up for that, here's pic of a rare Garden role, Ophelia in "Hamlet" by Ambroise Thomas. She's treated just as badly in the opera as in the play, but that
creates a tremendous mad scene that would have been a gift for an actress like Garden.
Remember when I said my favourite photo of Mary Garden was the one from Melisande? Well after seeing the above I've changed my mind. How many more of these
previously unseen photos do you have. Whilst we are on that subject, here are three that YOU may not have seen. Ha HAA.
These were taken in Chicago between 1918 and 1930.
I have another 16 similar photos.
Thanks to Jock, LEL, Alan, Seamount Lass and Dites for joining in. Great that everyone seems to be enjoying this topic. I'm sure she would have approved this
You're right, Haytoner, I have never seen these before. Somewhere I do have a few Chicago pics of a similar kind, which seem to be about keeping her name
in the news in Chicago. I must look them out.
Yours pics are brilliant. For a woman of 60 or so she has great style and a good figure. I do hope you'll post the others when you have time - I can't wait to see
what treasures you have found. Clever boy!
Great work there LEL.
As a follow on to my previous post, here are some more previously unseen photos (in this country) of Mary Garden.
This shows her with opera singer Helen Freund in Chicago 1925 This is in Chicago 1926
Chicago 1918 And finally, Chicago 1930 with athlete Helen Filkey and swimmer Jane Fauntz.
You will have noticed that all the writing on these plates is inside out and therefore the photos are the wrong way round. None of the handwriting is Marys.
The last press clipping I had from Mary's 1949 US tour implied that she had completed her commitments on Boxing day 1949 and would soon be on her way home. Well, I managed
to find out that she in fact sailed for Paris first to spend some time in a flat that she till had there, before returning to Aberdeen via London. This is from the Evening Express dated
March 20th 1950. She would have come home earlier but had a bout of flu.
It wasn't long before she was back in the community again, addressing the Aberdeen Branch of the National Council for Woman at the Northern Hotel. This from the
27th April 1950 Evening Express.
The Evening Express of the following day printed this picture of the event. Once again the newspaper had been folded down the middle before photocopying into the Library
Archives. I wish I had been around to oversee that operation. I spoke to the head librarian about this and she said that all the library staff had been immediately aware of this
problem but that whoever it was that went through the painstaking task of copying thousands of newspaper pages , had declined to re-do these pages.
Haytoner is doing a great job of filling out the picture of Mary Garden's presence during her later years in Aberdeen and her singing career is documented here and in the two biographies,
but what about the transition from opera and media star to genteel (unless crossed!) grande dame of Aberdeen society?
Mary’s final evening with the Chicago Civic Opera was on tour in Boston on 6 February 1931 in Erlanger’s “Camille”, a modern version of “La Traviata” and a far from ideal
vehicle for a farewell. Applause brought Mary in front of the curtain just once in a gesture of the Boston public’s admiration for her rather than as an expression of their feelings
for the opera itself. When she left the theatre, only the ballet and chorus were at the stage door. Mary thanked them and remarked, “After twenty years, not one official of the
Chicago Opera to say thank you or goodbye.”
There were still concerts and very occasional opera performances in Paris, but that was pretty well the end of Mary's performing career - except for a brief stint at vaudeville.
Watch this space!
Here's the next part of the Mary Garden whereabouts saga.
Last we heard was that she had returned to Aberdeen via Paris on March 20th 1950 and was talking about returning to America in September 1950. I have not yet found any
reference to when she actually did go but it looks like she probably had quite a long visit because she did not return home to Aberdeen until 27th February 1951.
Next one from 27th February 1951 Evening Express This from Evening Express 22nd February 1951
It seems that her sister Agnes Walsh died while Mary was on tour and Mary said that she too wanted to die in Aberdeen.
The following, from Evening Express 28th February 1951, shows that she was to return to USA at the end of August 1950 for another three month tour. Interestingly, she also
indicates that she was scheduled to visit South Africa in 1952. I don't know whether or not this happened or not. Over to you Jim.
Oops, nearly forgot to post this last one from Evening Express 28th February 1951.
My mistake, I DID actually find out when she left for America.I just got all my papers in a muddle. Maybe someone deliberately shuffled them this afternoon when I was up buying
the teas and fancy cakes (well fancier than a rowie anyway)
Once again, great effort has gone to ensure that the article was split right down the middle. Here are the two halves.
LEL. maybe you can do something with these on your excellent website. Maybe they should go in chronological oder too. The date of this article was 5th October 1950. paper the Evening Express
again. (I haven't really had time to explore the P&J yet. That will come later. Note that Mary says here that she does not want to leave Aberdeen for a long time. Yet it was 5 months before she
And finally for tonight a bit of "Bon-Accord Gossip" Looks like Mary was on the lookout for Scottish folk singers. I don't know if she found any that impressed her.
This is the story of Mary’s brief flirtation with vaudeville – and with the famous talent radio scout Major Bowes. Airbrushed from her autobiography, probably because she wasn’t the
sensation she hadhoped to be, this is taken largely from Ben M Hall’s tribute to the golden age of the movie palace, “The Best Remaining Seats”.
Major Edward J Bowes with Mary Garden. A shot to publicise the signing of their contract.
Rumours with a romance were invariably denied by both parties, although it’s quite possible that Mary cultivated him in the hope of landing some sort of contract, which she eventually did.
She was contracted to appear on the Loewe circuit singing classic folk songs, which would explain why she had cannily re-recorded so many of them for RCA in the late 1920s. Her
debut took place in Washington where she made four stage appearances a day, eventually coming to New York’s Capitol where she shared top billing with the Mills Brothers.
The Capitol, once one of many vast cine-variety houses in New York. Almost all of them, including the Capitol, were gone by the end of the 1960s. Now only Radio City Music Hall
Her long-heralded (and often postponed) appearance finally happened on 27 January 1933. She consented to appear for only the final dress rehearsal. When she arrived at the theatre
she was greeted by Major Bowes and personally conducted to her dressing room (hastily vacated by the orchestra’s lead cellist and considered the best one in the house because of its accessibility to the stage). After
all the other acts had done their bit, it was time for Mary to appear for her part in the rehearsal but there was no sign of her backstage.
“You better run catch Miss Garden” an usher told the show designer Arthur Knorr, “She’s left the theatre hopping mad and she’s heading down Broadway.” After a couple of blocks
the director caught up with La Garden ankling towards Times Square as fast as her feet would carry her. “Why Miss Garden,” he puffed, running to keep up with her, “what’s the
“I’ve never been so humiliated in my life,” was the stormy reply. “It’s bad enough to ask an artist of my standing to use a pig pen of a dressing room in the first place. But that’s not the
half of it. Mr Knorr, do you know what I found when I opened my closet to hang up my coat? "A pair of men's shoes!"
Thinking on the run, Knorr fired back at the sixty-something singer, “Well – er – Miss Garden, you wouldn’t have felt so bad if you had found them under your bed, would you?”
“Oh, aren’t you sweet,” gushed the diva. “Let’s go back to the theatre!”
A footnote. I had no idea when I visited New York recently that the Capitol was next to my hotel, the Novotel on Broadway. I couldn't have taken this photo if it had still been standing,
since it stood where a low-level restaurant complex is now situated, at the lower right corner of the photo.
You should all get together and produce a wee booklet! (I'm sure the Art Gallery shop would take in copies! I'd buy a couple for start).
Interesting that Mary was doing folk...I'd like to hear that, as I enjoy Kathleen Ferrier's recordings in that vein (and Britten's use of folksong with Peter Pears). Interesting,
too that the local press still weren't recognising the importance of folksong in the North-east, instead of the gaelic tradition.
A slight digression (for which I apologise), but you might like this wee clip of Josephine Foster (the first bit, anyway), who is usually classed as a folk artist, but did train
for a while in opera. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3_I3J11UIU&feature=related