February 7, 2017 "#Opera Before Instagram" Exhibition Travels to Los Angeles

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639

The Library of Congress exhibition “#Opera Before Instagram: Portraits, 1890-1955” will travel to Los Angeles, opening at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in the Library of Congress Ira Gershwin Gallery on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017.

Free and open to the public, the exhibition will close on Aug. 19, 2017.         

“#Opera Before Instagram” presents photographs of early opera stars from a collection assembled by the late authority on opera Charles Jahant, in a format that will explore how Jahant might have used an Instagram account had he lived today.

Jahant (1909–1994) was a well-known critic, radio panelist, teacher, lecturer and a member of the Advisory Council of the Metropolitan Opera Archives.  The Charles Jahant Collection in the Library of Congress Music Division contains nearly 2,000 photographs of opera singers from the late 19th century to the late 20th century.   Jahant began donating his photographs of opera singers to the Library of Congress in 1980.  His collection represents a historical view of the art of operatic singing through photographs of the greatest singers of his time and before.

“#Opera Before Instagram” imagines what Jahant’s Instagram account might have looked like, with pictures of his favorite opera singers, complete with captions giving his assessment of each singer’s talent and history.  The photographs on exhibit represent a cross-section of important singers who performed in America.  The label information in the exhibition is drawn from Jahant’s own writings.

The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of The Ira and Leonore Gershwin Fund.  An online version of the exhibition is on view at loc.gov/exhibits/.

The Library of Congress Music Division, with more than 21 million items, holds the world's largest music collection. Particular areas of strength include opera (scores and librettos), stage and screen musicals, chamber music, jazz and American popular song. The division is home to approximately 600 archival collections, most of them the personal papers (including music scores as well as correspondence, photographs, legal and financial documents, programs, clippings and other materials) documenting the lives and careers of stellar composers and performers.  For more information, visit loc.gov/rr/perform/.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.


PR 17-015
ISSN 0731-3527