Chicago Opera Association
The Chicago Opera Association was a company that produced seven seasons of grand opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 in Chicago’s Auditorium Theater from 1915 to 1921. The founding artistic director and principal conductor was Cleofonte Campanini
Cleofonte Campanini
Cleofonte Campanini was an Italian conductor. His brother was the tenor Italo Campanini.Born in Parma, Campanini studied music at that city's conservatory, making his debut with a performance of Carmen, also in Parma, in 1883...

, while the general manager and chief underwriter was Harold F. McCormick
Harold Fowler McCormick
Harold Fowler McCormick, Sr. was chairman of the board of International Harvester Company.-Biography:He was born on May 2, 1872, the sixth child of Cyrus McCormick, inventor and manufacturer of the mechanical reaper; and Nancy Fowler McCormick.He graduated from Princeton University in 1895...

. When Campanini died in December 1919 he was replaced by the composer Gino Marinuzzi
Gino Marinuzzi
Gino Marinuzzi was an Italian conductor and composer, particularly associated with Wagner and the Italian repertory....

, who staged his own "Jacquerie" as the opening production of the 1920/21 season.

In January 1921, operatic diva Mary Garden
Mary Garden
Mary Garden , was a Scottish operatic soprano with a substantial career in France and America in the first third of the 20th century...

 was appointed music director (or “Directa” as she styled it) and the recently divorced McCormick promised to pay that year's difference exceeding $100,000, the previous high being $300,000. He planned on this being his last season, and he called in Mary Garden to finish the company with style. The subsequent blow-out season was finished with the hugely expensive world premiere of Sergei Prokofiev's
Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century...

 “A Love for Three Oranges,” which had been commissioned by the Opera Association. This, and other extravagances on Mary Garden’s part, ended the season with a deficit of $1,100,000, most of which was paid for by the McCormick fund. Mary Garden as “Directa” for one season cost $750,000 more than any single season of opera in Chicago at that time. Coming as it did during a business recession, these deficits bankrupted the company.

The bankrupt Chicago Opera Association was soon succeeded by a successor company, the Chicago Civic Opera
Chicago Civic Opera
The Civic Opera Company was a Chicago company that produced seven seasons of grand opera in the Auditorium Theater from 1922 to 1928, and three seasons at its own Civic Opera House from 1929 to 1931 before falling victim to financial difficulties brought on in part by the Great Depression.-...

, under the direction of utilities magnate Samuel Insull
Samuel Insull
Samuel Insull was an Anglo-American innovator and investor based in Chicago who greatly contributed to creating an integrated electrical infrastructure in the United States. Insull was notable for purchasing utilities and railroads using holding companies, as well as the abuse of them...

. Sixteen of the eighteen directors were carried over from the old company.

Notable singers

  • Georges Baklanoff
    Georges Baklanoff
    Georges Baklanoff was a Russian operatic baritone who had an active international career from 1903 until his death in 1938. Possessing a powerful and flexible voice, he sang roles from a wide variety of musical periods and in many languages...

  • Charles Dalmorès
    Charles Dalmorès
    Charles Dalmorès was a French tenor. He enjoyed an international operatic career, singing to public and critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic during the first two decades of the 20th century.-Biography:...

  • Hector Dufranne
    Hector Dufranne
    Hector Dufranne was a Belgian operatic bass-baritone who enjoyed a long career that took him to opera houses throughout Europe and the United States for more than four decades...

  • Anna Fitziu
    Anna Fitziu
    Anna Fitziu was an American soprano who had a prolific international opera career during the early part of the 20th century. Her signature roles included Fiora in L'amore dei tre re, Mimi in La Boheme, Nedda in Pagliacci, and the title roles in Isabeau, Madama Butterfly, and Tosca...

  • Mary Garden
    Mary Garden
    Mary Garden , was a Scottish operatic soprano with a substantial career in France and America in the first third of the 20th century...

  • Gustave Huberdeau
    Gustave Huberdeau
    Gustave Huberdeau was a French operatic bass-baritone who had a prolific career in Europe and the United States during the first quarter of the twentieth century...

  • Frances Ingram
    Frances Ingram
    Elizabeth Frances Ingram was an American operatic contralto of English birth who had an active career in North America during the 1910s and 1920s.-Life and career:...

  • Nina Koshetz
    Nina Koshetz
    Nina Koshetz ; December 30, 1891 - May 14, 1965) was a Ukrainian, later American, soprano opera and recital singer.Her father, a famous opera singer Pavel Koshetz , committed suicide. She was then 12 years....

  • Edith Mason
    Edith Mason
    Edith Mason was an American soprano.She studied in Boston, Philadelphia, and Paris. She made her debut on January 27, 1912, as Nedda in Pagliacci with the Boston Opera Company. During the next three years, she sang in Europe at Nice, Marseilles, and Paris...

  • Mary McCormic
    Mary McCormic
    Mary McCormic was an American operatic soprano and a professor of opera at the University of North Texas College of Music ....

  • Carmen Melis
    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...

  • Lucien Muratore
    Lucien Muratore
    Lucien Muratore was a French actor and operatic tenor, particularly associated with the French repertory.- Life and career :...

  • Giovanni Polese
    Giovanni Polese
    Giovanni Polese was an Italian operatic baritone who had an active international singing career from 1894-1928. He achieved the height of his success in the United States in the years 1908-1916 in the cities of Boston, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia, and again from 1926-1928 in Chicago...

  • Emilio Venturini
    Emilio Venturini
    Emilio Venturini was an Italian operatic lyric tenor known for his portrayal of character roles. He made his professional opera debut in 1900 in Italy where he remained for the next several years. In 1901 he sang the role of Brighella in Mascagni's Le maschere at the Teatro Regio in Turin...

  • Alice Verlet
    Alice Verlet
    Alice Verlet was a Belgian-born operatic coloratura soprano active primarily in France. She sang principal roles at the operas in Lyon, Nice, and Monte Carlo; at His Majesty's Theater in London; at La Monnaie in Brussels; and at the Paris Opéra and Opéra-Comique...


  • Davis, Ronald L., Opera in Chicago, Appleton, New York City, 1966.
  • Marsh, Robert C. and Norman Pellegrini
    Norman Pellegrini
    Norman Pellegrini was an American radio executive, producer, and personality. He was the program director for WFMT radio in Chicago from 1953 to 1996. On air he led WFMT's internationally syndicated broadcasts of live performances from the Lyric Opera of Chicago from 1971 until his retirement...

    , 150 Years of Opera in Chicago, Northern Illinois University Press, Chicago 2006.
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