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Opera Magazine

(New York, 1914-1916)

Prepared by David Sommerfield
Introduction by Benjamin Knysak
Online only (2021)

The Opera Magazine. Devoted to the Higher Forms of Musical Art (RIPM code OMA) was published monthly between January 1914 and October 1916 with each issue ranging between 36 and 48 pages. Founded after the failure of The Opera / Century Opera Weekly (1913), The Opera Magazine continued the previous journal’s coverage of operatic and concert music with devoted focus on productions largely in New York.

Edited by the writer and lyricist Roderic C. Penfield from offices at 1600 Broadway, the editor declares in the first issue that the journal would not be written for those for whom opera is a profession, e.g. vocalists, musicians, or those involved in production, rather “The readers to whom this publication especially caters are the men and women devoted to music in its more serious forms as a source of culture, relaxation and pleasure – who are the patrons of opera, and orchestral, recital and chamber music.” This intended readership is indicated clearly in advertisements for Tiffany & Co., jewelers, automobile dealers (commonly described as carriages), in addition to theaters, singers, and vocal teachers. Each issue is lavishly illustrated with photographs of singers, many in theatrical dress. Until October 1915, issue covers were illustrated with charcoal sketches of prominent singers by the artist J. V. Ranck; thereafter photographs adorn the covers.

Most writing in each issue concerns various aspects of opera, including biographical portraits of and interviews with singers, articles on particular operas and operatic genres, the history of opera, and reviews of productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Century Opera, and San Carlo Opera. Beyond productions in New York, domestic opera news focuses on productions in Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia. Some foreign musical news is included. The First World War leads to an increasingly anti-German editorial stance; multiple articles call for increased performances of opera in English. Orchestral and chamber music concerts are regularly reviewed by the critic Sigmund Spaeth.

The Opera Magazine contains writings of many well-known music journalists, including William J. Henderson, H. K. Moderwell, H. T. Craven, Arnold Volpe, Percy A. Scholes, and Frederick H. Martens. Unfortunately, no reason is given for the journal’s demise.

This RIPM Index was based on a copy of the journal held by the Library of Congress.