Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Aug 29, 2014

Bernardo Olshansky (Baritone) (Russia 1885 - ?)

Driven by political persecution  to seek the protection of America, he arrived in New York about the year 1905, at the age of twenty. He worked hard at various trades, but during all his straggles he kept before him his desire and determination to become a grand opera singer. A few months after landing in New York he began to take lessons with Giacomo Ginsburg, and worked with rare diligence. Three years later his teacher pronounced him equipped for opera and advised him to go to Italy for his debut. Lacking worldly goods, and not familiar with other languages Olshansky nevertheless set out for Italy, and overcame all professional difficulties. He made his debut in ''Rigoletto'' at Monza, and engagements from other towns were offered to him, but he decided to return to America and complete his studies. Then he was invited to sing at a musicale at the house of Mrs. B. Guinness, where his excellent diction, perfect phrasing, convincing rendition and his beautiful voice, deeply impressed the audience. Among them was Mr. R. L. Cottenet, a director of the Metropolitan Opera House, who at once arranged for Olshansky to sing before Toscanini. Mrs. Guinness, however, engaged him for the following season and sent him to Paris to study French roles under Andre Caplet, one of the conductors of the Boston Opera Company. Thus, after a romantic career, Olshansky was a member of an opera company. Olshansky made his debut there in 1911. It would be nice to say that he went on to a big career, but such does not seem to be the case. After singing a few minor roles in Boston and making some recordings for several companies, Olshansky seems to have   disappeared from sight. Nothing more about him is known. However, he did leave us some beautiful recordings, which make one wonder why a singer with such a fine voice did not go on to a successful career.

Chronology of some appearances

1908/1909 Monza Opera House
1911 Boston Opera


Victor,  3/6/1917
Demon (Rubinstein): Romance  B-19243
The Prisoners  (Bleichman) B-19244

Victor, 4/12/1917
Dubinushca B-19471

Victor,  11/15/1918
Elegie (Glinka) B-22424
Ye who have yearned alone (Tchaikovsky) B-22423

Victor,  3/11/1919
The Red Scarf  B-22618

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