Bruna Castagna as Carmen

Bruna Castagna joined the Metropolitan Opera’s popular-priced spring season of 1935 as the second great Italian mezzo-soprano since Sofia Scalchi. Her voice was sumptuous and her acting acceptable, although her own costumes sometimes were considered to verge on the vulgar. During her ten years in New York, Castagna rarely gave an unsatisfactory performance. She sang with many companies in the United States, including the Cleveland Orchestra Opera Company, the St. Louis Company, and at the Cincinnati Zoo Opera. #opera

Bruna Castagna (1905–1983). Photographer: De Bellis Studio. New York. Gelatin silver print, 1933. Charles Jahant Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (010.00.00)

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José Luccioni as Werther

Corsican-born José Luccioni was a pupil at the Paris Conservatory and made his debut in 1931 at the Paris Opéra. He sang in most French cities, as well as Monte Carlo, London, Barcelona, Rome, Turin, Florence, Verona, and throughout South America. In 1937, Luccioni sang in Chicago. His voice, penetrating but not overly powerful, enabled him to sing such heroic roles as Canio (Pagliacci), Radames (Aida), Calaf (Turandot), Samson (Samson and Delilah), his speciality, Otello (Otello); and lyric ones such as Werther (Werther), Roméo (Roméo and Juliet), and Faust (Faust). Luccioni created the lead in Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac. #opera

José Luccioni (1903–1978). Photographer: Lorelle. Paris, France. Gelatin silver print, ca. 1933. Charles Jahant Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (011.00.00)

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Joseph Rogatchevsky as Des Grieux in Manon

Lyric-dramatic tenor Joseph Rogatchevsky was born in a Russian-dominated section of Poland. He was sent to Paris to study and made his debut at the Opéra-Comique in 1922. In 1924 Rogatchevsky went to Brussels, where he remained, with some interruptions, for twenty years. He appeared also in Vienna, Lisbon, Berlin, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia. During World War II he fled to America where he was ignored until 1944, when he sang with the New York City Opera and San Francisco’s Russian Opera. In 1953 he was made director of the Royal Opera in Brussels. He had a fine voice and sang a large repertoire from Mozart to Wagner. #opera

Joseph Rogatchevsky (1891–1985). Photographer unknown. Paris, France. Gelatin silver print, 1939. Charles Jahant Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (012.00.00)

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Bidu Sayão as Manon

Brazilian soprano Bidu Sayão studied with famed Polish tenor Jean de Reszke before making her debut in Rio de Janeiro in 1925 in The Barber of Seville. After many European successes, Sayão came to Washington, D.C., in 1936 where she made her American debut in Lakmé. It was a disastrous performance in which the unpaid orchestra refused to play, and the opera was performed solely to piano accompaniment. The Metropolitan Opera engaged Sayão in 1937, where she remained until 1951. Her delicate voice was perhaps too small for the cavernous "Old Met," but her successes, especially in French opera, endeared her to audiences. #opera

Balduina "Bidu" de Oliveira Sayão (1902–1999). Photographer: Seinas. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gelatin silver print, 1935. Charles Jahant Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (013.00.00)

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