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Digital Collections in the Friedheim Library

About this collection

The Andrew S. Pope digital collection of opera memorabilia contains photographs, drawings, cartes de visite, and other visual artifacts of opera singers and other musicians from the 19th and 20th centuries, many of which are autographed.

 

Andrew S. Pope was brought up in a small north Louisiana paper mill town. During the war years, a decade before television would come to this small town, he listened to the programs broadcast in radio's golden years on his car radio. It had better reception than his family's home model. On a Saturday afternoon, he tuned in a weak AM radio signal beamed from Shreveport and discovered the "Texaco Theatre" starring James Melton. Inspired by Melton's performance, he attended his first opera performance, a production of Il Trovatore at the old Strand theater in Shreveport.

 

In 1950 young Andy bought his first recording, a 45 rpm of Leonard Warren singing the "Lord's Prayer" and "Danny Boy". He didn't know who Warren was, but thought he must be a great singer. "I got up enough nerve to write Warren asking for a signed photo," Mr. Pope recalled, "and the great singer obliged and sent a handsome signed photo."

 

After receiving Warren's photograph and a letter of thanks, young Andy set on a lifelong quest, collecting recordings and record catalogs, books, pictures, programs, letters, and printed ephemera documenting the world of opera from the late 1700s to the present. A growing interest in preserving and restoring the vintage recordings he had acquired prompted him to become a producer.

 

His move to Maryland in 1960 brought him closer to performances at the Metropolitan Opera, Kennedy Center, and the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore. His research on the world of opera took him to the Peabody Conservatory when preparation for a traveling exhibition, John Charles Thomas: An American Classic, was in progress. Andrew Pope loaned his beautifully restored John Charles Thomas theatre poster to the Archives for installation in the exhibit.

 

In the years that followed, Mr. Pope continued to place other treasures from his collection in the Archives where they could be made available to researchers. Michael Maher drew on the Andrew S. Pope Collection for his recent book on John Charles Thomas.

 
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