Vintage Opera Posters

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Located in St. George’s Chamber and thanks to art collector John Lesser, City Museum is proud to display an ever-changing assortment of opera posters. The pieces at City Museum come from France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, and Monaco. A number of the posters announce world premiere performances of famous operas like Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” (1904) or “Tosca” (1900) or more obscure works like Pijper’s “Halewijn” (1933). Many are for premier performances of operas by Jules Massenet; still others feature portraits of famous composers or singers like Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verde, Hariclea Darclee, and Lucy Arbell.

The posters, dating between the 1860s and the 1990s, are all original advertising pieces designed to announce performances or the publication of a score. Most are lithographs from stone or zinc plates, but the newer pieces are photo offset, a process which transfers images and type from original materials to printing plates. As is the case with many pieces of City Museum, these posters would have been discarded if not for the conservation efforts of a few dedicated collectors.

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