Philadelphia La Scala Opera Company

Last updated
The Academy of Music in Philadelphia. AcademyOfMusic1870.jpg
The Academy of Music in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia La Scala Opera Company (defunct) was an American opera company located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that was actively performing at the Academy of Music between 1925 and 1954. In 1955 the company merged with the Philadelphia Civic Grand Opera Company to form the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company.



Founded under the name La Scala Grand Opera Company, the company's first production was of Giuseppe Verdi's La traviata on May 4, 1925 with Josephine Lucchese as Violetta, Dimitri Onofrei as Alfredo, Elia Palma as Giorgio, and Fulgenzio Guerrieri conducting. The company presented fifteen more operas during the 1925-1926 season including Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (with Rosalinda Rudko-Morini in the title role, Giuseppe Reschiglian as Edgardo, and Emanuel Nugnez as Enrico), Giuseppe Verdi's Aida (with Alice Eversman in the title role and Bernardo de Muro as Radames), Verdi's Rigoletto , Cavalleria rusticana (with Emilia Vergeri as Santuzza), and Pagliacci (with Nicola Zerola as Canio) among others. [1]

After its first season, Francesco Pelosi was appointed General Manager and Artistic Director of the company in 1926. For the second season the company was renamed the Philadelphia La Scala Grand Opera Company which it performed under until 1938 when the company's title was shortened to the Philadelphia La Scala Opera Company. Pelosi served as director until his sudden death in a car accident in 1948. [2] He was succeeded by Humbert A. Pelosi who served the company as General Manager and Artistic Director for the rest of its history. [3] Carlo Moresco was the company's primary conductor from 1950-1954. [1]

During its history, the PLOC typically presented 12 operas each year at the Academy of Music during its annual season, giving over 350 opera performances at the house by the end of its final season. The company's last season was the 1953-1954 which was cut short due to financial reasons. The company's last performance was of Georges Bizet's Carmen on April 29, 1954 with Gloria Lane in the title role, David Poleri as Don José, Rutilio del Vecchio as Escamillo, Dora Marasco as Micaëla, and Moresco conducting. In November 1954 the company merged with the Philadelphia Civic Grand Opera Company to form the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company. [3] [1]

Notable performers

Related Research Articles

Renata Tebaldi Italian opera singer

Renata Tebaldi was an Italian lirico-spinto soprano popular in the post-war period, and especially prominent as one of the stars of La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera. Often considered among the great opera singers of the 20th century, she focused primarily on the verismo roles of the lyric and dramatic repertoires. Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini called her voice "la voce d'angelo", and La Scala music director Riccardo Muti called her "one of the greatest performers with one of the most extraordinary voices in the field of opera."

Herva Nelli Operatic soprano

Herva Nelli was an Italian-American operatic soprano.

Carmen Melis

Carmen Melis was an Italian operatic soprano who had a major international career during the first four decades of the 20th century. She was known, above all, as a verismo soprano, and was one of the most interesting singing actresses of the early 20th century. She made her debut in Novara in 1905 and her career rapidly developed in her native country over the next four years. From 1909 to 1916 she performed with important opera companies in the United States; after which she was busy performing at many of Europe's most important opera houses. From 1917 until her retirement from the stage in 1935 she was particularly active at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome and at La Scala in Milan. After her singing career ended, she embarked on a second career as a voice teacher. Her most notable student was soprano Renata Tebaldi.

Tulsa Opera is an American opera company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Originally an amateur performance group named the Tulsa Opera Club, the company was incorporated as a professional organization in 1953. Performances for the company were originally presented at the Tulsa Theater until the Tulsa Performing Arts Center (TPAC) opened in 1977. The company currently presents an annual season of three staged operas at the TPAC. Numerous well known singers have performed in operas with the company, including Beverly Sills, Anna Moffo, Roberta Peters, Richard Tucker, Renata Scotto, Cornell MacNeil, Samuel Ramey, Simon Estes, and Jerry Hadley among many others. In addition to staged operas, the company has also presented concerts and recitals featuring artists like Barbara Cook, Susan Graham, Luciano Pavarotti, Leontyne Price, and Joan Sutherland. Opera composer and pianist Tobias Picker currently serves as the company's artistic director.

Radmila Bakočević

Radmila Bakočević, is a Serbian operatic soprano who had a major international opera career that began in 1955 and ended upon her retirement from the stage in 2004. During her career, she sang at most of the world's important opera houses, including performances throughout Europe, North and South America. She forged important long-term artistic partnerships with two opera houses during her career: the National Theatre in Belgrade and the Vienna State Opera.

Giuseppe Valdengo Italian baritone

Giuseppe Valdengo was an Italian operatic baritone. Opera News said that, "Although his timbre lacked the innate beauty of some of his baritone contemporaries, Valdengo's performances were invariably satisfying — bold and assured in attack but scrupulously musical."

Salvatore Baccaloni Italian opera singer (1900-1969)

Salvatore Baccaloni was an Italian operatic bass, buffo artist, and actor.

Antonio Magini-Coletti was a leading Italian baritone who had a prolific career in Europe and the United States during the late 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. A versatile artist, he appeared in several opera world premieres but was particularly associated with the works of Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Wagner and the verismo composers. He was also an accomplished exponent of the bel canto repertoire.

The Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company was an American opera company located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that was active between 1958 and 1974. The company was led by a number of Artistic Directors during its history, beginning with Aurelio Fabiani. Other notable Artistic Directors include Julius Rudel and Anton Guadagno (1966–1972). The company produced between four and six of their own operas every year in addition to sponsoring numerous traveling productions from the New York City Opera. In 1975 the company merged with the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company but retained its original name. With the combined resources of both companies, the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company began producing higher quality productions with name artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Roberta Peters, Montserrat Montserrat Caballé, and others. For the bicentennial year 1976, the company commissioned famed opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti to create a new opera. The work, The Hero, premiered on June 1, 1976. In 1980, the company artistically reorganized to form the Opera Company of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Grand Opera Company

The Philadelphia Grand Opera Company was the name of four different American opera companies active at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the twentieth century. The last and best known of the four was founded in November 1954 with the merger of the Philadelphia Civic Grand Opera Company and the Philadelphia La Scala Opera Company. That company in turn merged with the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company in 1975 to form the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Of the three earlier companies, only one lasted beyond one season; a company founded in 1926 which later became associated with the Curtis Institute of Music in 1929. That company closed its doors in 1932 due to financial reasons during the Great Depression.

Philadelphia Civic Grand Opera Company

The Philadelphia Civic Grand Opera Company (PCGOC) was an American opera company located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that was actively performing at the Academy of Music between 1950 and 1955. Fausta Cleva served as the company's first General Director and conductor. The company's first performance was of Camille Saint-Saëns's Samson et Dalila on January 24, 1950 with Giovanni Martinelli as Samson, Blanche Thebom as Dalila, Martial Singher as The High Priest of Dagon, and John Lawler as Abimélech. Other operas presented that season were Cavalleria rusticana, L'amico Fritz, and Carmen.

Enrica Clay Dillon was an American opera singer, opera director, and voice teacher.

The Philadelphia Civic Opera Company (PCOC) was an American opera company located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that was actively performing between 1924 and 1930. Founded by Philadelphia socialite Mrs. Henry M. Tracy, the company was established partially through funds provided by the city of Philadelphia and its then-mayor, W. Freeland Kendrick. The company was led by Artistic Director Alexander Smallens. Tracy served as the company's President and ran the business side of the organization while Smallens served as the company's primary conductor and made all of the artistic decisions. W. Attmore Robinson was later brought in to help Smallens with some of the artistic direction. The company performed between 10 and 15 operas every year during an annual season until it went bankrupt a year after the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Carlo Moresco was an American conductor, composer, violinist, and stage director of Italian birth. He was one of the most important opera conductors in the city of Philadelphia during the 20th century, working for multiple opera companies in that city. He also held conducting posts with companies in Connecticut and at the Tulsa Opera.

Nicola Zerola

Nicola Zerola was an Italian operatic tenor who had an active international career from 1898-1928. He began his career in his native country, but was soon heard in concerts and operas internationally during the first years of the 20th century. In 1908 he relocated to the United States where he was active with important opera companies in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia up into the late 1920s. Between 1909 and 1911 he recorded 13 issued sides for the Victor Talking Machine Company at their Camden, New Jersey studios. He also made 11 solo recordings and one duet for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company in England in 1910-1911.

Lodovico Graziani Italian opera singer 1820-85

Lodovico Graziani was an Italian operatic tenor. According to John Warrack and Ewan West, writing in The Oxford Dictionary of Opera: "His voice was clear and vibrant, but he lacked dramatic gifts." He is now mainly remembered for having created the role of Alfredo Germont in the world premiere of Giuseppe Verdi's La traviata in 1853.

Andrew McKinley

Andrew McKinley was an American operatic tenor, violinist, arts administrator, music educator, and school administrator. Although he mainly performed in the United States, he had an active international singing career with major opera companies and symphony orchestras from the 1940s through the 1960s. His repertoire spanned a wide range, from leading tenor parts to character roles.

Gloria Lane Krachmalnick was an American operatic mezzo-soprano who had an active international performance career from 1949 to 1976. In her early career she distinguished herself by creating roles in the world premieres of two operas by Gian Carlo Menotti, the Secretary of the Consulate in The Consul (1950) and Desideria in The Saint of Bleecker Street (1954); both roles which she performed in successful runs on Broadway and on international tours. For her performance in The Consul she was awarded a Clarence Derwent Award and two Donaldson Awards.

Giuseppe Danise

Giuseppe Danise was an Italian operatic baritone. He sang to great acclaim throughout Italy and the Americas, appearing in lyric and dramatic roles from the Italian, French, Wagnerian, and Russian repertoire.

Grace Angelau American opera singer

Grace Angelau was an American opera singer who had an active international career in operas and operettas in the 1920s, 1930s, and early 1940s. At various times in her career she was billed as a contralto and a soprano, but a 1942 article summarizing her career in Pix magazine labeled her as a mezzo-soprano. In the United States she appeared in operas in several theatres on Broadway, and was active with the touring San Carlo Opera Company, the Chicago Opera Company, and the New York Hippodrome Opera. She also appeared at European opera houses like La Scala, and at theaters in Australia, and Central and South America. She was particularly admired for her performances of Amneris in Giuseppe Verdi's Aida and Azucena in Verdi's Il trovatore. She owned and operated the Coonara Springs Restaurant & Gardens, now listed on the Victoria Heritage Database of historical sights, in Olinda, Victoria, Australia during the 1940s. Many of her costumes, jewlery, photographs, and other personal artifacts are part of the Australian Performing Arts Collection at the Arts Centre Melbourne.


  1. 1 2 3 New York Public Library for the Performing Arts: Folder: Philadelphia La Scala Opera Company
  2. "FRANCESCO PELOSI, 53, PRODUCER OF OPERAS". The New York Times . August 3, 1948. Retrieved June 26, 2009.
  3. 1 2 "2 Opera Companies Report Merger Plans". The New York Times . November 16, 1954. Retrieved June 26, 2009.