Thursday, March 12, 2015

When Rosa Ponselle Was A Wedding Singer At Paterno Castle

Society Gal: Rosa Ponselle had friends in high places
"Rosa was rethinking her own life. Early in 1936 she ended her relationship with Russo because they argued, because he did not repay the $13,000 or more than she had lent him, and because Carmela and their father distrusted him. When the Metropolitan Opera tour took her to Baltimore in Carmen that spring, she met Carle A. Jackson, the mayor's son. Their romance, covered in articles in the Baltimore papers that survive in the clipping files of the public libraries in Baltimore and New York, quite naturally attracted the attention of the press. 'Opera star' meets 'prominent socialite' at 'Bori's farewell performance at the Lyric Theatre in Baltimore,' as the papers described it. But they tell only part of the story, for Jackson was the headstrong thirty-year old divorced father of a child, while Ponselle, who had turned thirty-nine the previous January, was facing personal and career challenges that were no less daunting than those of her earliest years at the Metropolitan. Whatever else it was, this was not 'love's young dream' but rather the free association of sophisticated adults. According to all accounts the two fell in love almost on sight and, after a courtship that lasted through that summer, were married on December 13, 1936,
Rosa Ponselle with sister Carmela (left)
in Ponselle's penthouse at 90 Riverside Drive. The man who officiated was New York State Supreme Court Justice Salvatore A. Cotillo, who knew both Rosa and Carmela well, for in November 1934 they had sung at the wedding of his daughter Helen to Carlo Paterno, another of the Ponselle sisters' circle. That ceremony, at 'The Castle,' the Cotillo mansion overlooking the Hudson River in Westchester County, had been amply covered by reporters. Now they were back in force for Ponselle's wedding. She wore 'a gray crushed velvet gown with a cowl and carried a muff of lavender orchids' because lavender was 'her favorite color,' she said. The soprano was giving away by 'her father, Benjamin Ponzillo of Meriden, Connecticut.' Carmela was the maid of honor, while Riall Jackson, the groom's brother, served as best man. The Metropolitan Opera tenor Richard Crooks sang 'Oh, Promsie Me.'" [Source] See more glamorous and rare photos of Rosa Ponselle, as well as some audio samples from 1934, after the jump. 
The castle of real-estate developer Charles V. Paterno, where the wedding was held in 1934,
with the George Washington Bridge in the background.


  1. Actually, Crooks sang two songs during the ceremony: "Oh, Promise Me" at the start, and "For You Alone" after the vows were exchanged.

  2. Beautiful photos ! Thank you very much :)