This delightful and sometimes cheeky Library of Congress exhibit provides a wealth of information about the history of opera in the United States. We loved #OperaBeforeInstagram for the amazing portrait photography (be sure to click on each image to get a glimpse into opera custumes over the years) accompanied by detailed and often humorous write-ups. ("Her voice was not exceptional, but it served her music honorably and well".)
This whimsically titled online exhibition is brought to readers by the Library of Congress. Staff at the Library mined the Charles Jahant Collection, nearly 2,000 photographs of opera singers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to present "a cross section of important singers who performed in the United States." Some of the opera stars were photographed in costume, while others were captured in their street clothes, making the collection of interest to opera aficionados, scholars of clothing and dress, lovers of old photography, and others. Many of the photographs are autographed to Charles Jahant. The approximately 3 dozen exhibition items have been divided into several sections for easy browsing: Operatic Singers in Formal Clothing, French Repertoire, German Repertoire, and Italian Repertoire. The images are accompanied by short IMDB style bios of the singers, for example, Helen Traubel (1899-1972), whose "predilection for radio and night club appearances annoyed the Met management and ended her operatic career in 1953."