Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Using eBay to Look Into Opera's Glorious Bygone Era

Bass Kurt Böhme takes in a quiet afternoon at the Salzburg Festival

Imagine the world's largest yard sale that carries every imaginable item you could ever dream of owning. This is eBay, a website best navigated when you know specifically what you want and then tactically go on the hunt for it. Sometimes, however, one can get sucked into what could only be described as "free association" shopping. You know when you go to look for that one special recording of an artist that is out of print and the next thing you know the search has led you to one of their colleague's latest cook books. Sometimes that can help you stumble upon a gold mine of memorabilia that is worthy of the best opera archive. Our past is often captured best through photographs and what better way to peak into an era that celebrated the grandiosity of opera on, as well as off, the stage than through the press photos that have been lying dormant in filing cabinets across the country for more than 50 years. Two specific sellers on ebay, rfleetjr and historicimages-store, specialize in such images that have often been gathered from either an opera company's file purging or an associated press trash bin. These press photos range from portraits to casual promotional materials. Some have editorial markings on them that actually lend to their historical charm. What better way to pay homage to the yesteryear of operatic history than to have one of these souvenirs hanging on your office wall or in the powder room for guests to comment. Take a look at what can be yours:
Regina Resnik in costume
Dorothy Kirsten in 1963 glamour shot
Austrian soprano Birgit Sarata
Lily Pons with dogs
Perry Como and Roberta Peters
Marian Anderson keeping warm

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