University of Minnesota

Gallo, Fortune, 1878-1970, Papers

Finding Aid


IHRC


Immigration History Research Center, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota

Descriptive summary

Creator: Gallo, Fortune, 1878-1970.
Dates: 1930-1960
Abstract: Papers (1930-1960) of Fortune Gallo (1878-1970), founder and director of the San Carlo Opera Company, consist of his "personal" books, and programs and newspaper clippings and opera directories describing the work of the Company.
Quantity: 1 linear ft.
Language: Mainly in English.
Collection ID: IHRC760

PROVENANCE

The papers of Fortune Gallo, relevant to the San Carlo Opera Company, were deposited in the Immigration History Research Center about 1970. They were acquired from Helen McShane Del Percio, Gallo’s long-time secretary, and secured by Professor Rudolph J. Vecoli, Director of the Center. The collection is predominantly in English, and consists of approximately one linear foot. It was processed during 1976 by Philip F. Notarianni. Inventory included in the IHRC online set of finding aids VITRAGE in 2005.

HISTORICAL SKETCH

Fortune T. Gallo was born on May 9, 1878 at Torremaggiore, Italy, province of Foggia, to Tommas and Zelinda Gallo. His childhood was spent at Torremaggiore, where he became involved with music and musicians, especially the “Banda Rosa,” which would prove of importance later in his life. In 1895, aboard the vessel “Werra,” Gallo immigrated to the United States. He worked as a clerk in an Italian bank on Mulberry Street in New York. From that base it appears Gallo became involved in politics on the local level, amassing contacts and influence within the Italian community.

Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century the “Banda Rosa” was engaged to play in America. Emanating from this situation was the acquaintance of Gallo with Channing Ellery, a patron of music, that led to Gallo’s work as an advance man from Ellery’s band. By 1910 Gallo had also become manager of another band, operated by Giuseppe Creatore; and in 1911 helped an Italian opera company, stranded in Latin America, untangle its financial difficulties, ultimately assuming its management. Gallo reorganized the company, making an innovation by utilizing local singers (which explains the organization of Gallo’s record books as they appear in the collection). On May 4, 1912 Gallo married Sofia Charlebois. In December, 1913, Fortune Gallo’s San Carlo Opera Company opened with a premier performance featuring “Carmen”. The company fared well, and in 1927 Gallo built a theater, which bore his name, in New York.

He not only toured the United States, Canada, Europe, and South America with San Carlo, but in addition, managed Anna Pavlowa’s Ballet Russe, as well as other troupes. In 1929 Gallo produced the first full-length sound movie of an opera, Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci”. Furthermore, he managed the Chicago Opera Company in the early 1940’s. Fortune Gallo’s managerial abilities were lauded because he made opera “pay”. Numerous periodical articles described Gallo’s skills, with one portraying his as having produced opera for the “masses and not the classes”. The impresario, often labeled the “cut rate opera king,” financed and toured with the San Carlo for over forty-five years. He died March 28, 1970. A more detailed description of Gallo’s life is found in this autobiography, Lucky Rooster, published in 1967 by Exposition Press, New York— a copy of which is in the Center’s imprint collection.


DESCRIPTION OF THE COLLECTION


ORGANIZATION OF MATERIALS

The collection has basically retained much of the order in which it was obtained. However, a biographical section (Folder 1) was created by the processor, composed of duplicate materials that were scattered throughout the collection. In addition, correspondence, which was removed from two bound directories, were arranged in chronological order and placed together (Folder 2). The two directories were taken apart, but appear in the exact alphabetical order in which they were found. Items were found pinned or stapled to pages of these directories were unfastened, but remain with the page to which they adhered (placed in a white bond folder). Schedules, clippings, (many removed from the directories) and photographs were found together, but have been segregated into separate folders. The collection consists of four series:

1. Biographical Material and Correspondence (Folders 1-2)
2. Bound Directories (Folders 3-19)
3. Schedules, Clippings, and Photographs (Folders 20-24)
4. San Carlo Opera Company Corporate Seals (Folder 25)


ACCESS RESTRICTIONS

The Gallo, Fortune, 1878-1970 collection is available for public research.

OWNERSHIP & LITERARY RIGHTS

The Gallo, Fortune, 1878-1970 collection is the physical property of the Immigration History Reseach Center, University of Minnesota.

For further information regrading the copyright, please contact the IHRC.


CITE AS

The Gallo, Fortune, 1878-1970 Papers, Italian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota

Index Terms

Opera companies.
Opera producers and directors.
Italian Americans.

Description of Series

This section briefly describes each series in the collection. A more detailed description of the contents of each series may be found in the following section.

SERIES 1. Biographical Material and Correspondence (Folders 1-2)

This section consists of biographical sketches, a piece of Gallo’s personal stationary, announcements pertaining to his autobiography, Lucky Rooster; and correspondence.

SERIES 2. Bound Directories (Folders 3-19)

Two of Gallo’s business directories—one listing “cities” and the other containing artists, agents, etc.—have been unbound, placed in separate folders, and arranged in alphabetical order as described above.

SERIES 3. Schedules, Clippings, and Photographs (Folders 20-24)

Included here are: schedules of San Carlo Opera Company (Folder 20); articles dealing with Gallo and San Carlo (Folder 21), including some “over size” material that was removed and placed in a separate “over size” folder; schedules of other opera companies and groups (Folder 22); miscellaneous newspaper clippings (Folder 23); and photographs (Folder 24).

SERIES 4. San Carlo Opera Company Corporate Seals (Folder 25)

Housed in a carton, labeled Folder 25, are the actual corporate seals of the San Carlo Opera Company.


Detailed Description of the Collection

SERIES 1. Biographical Material and Correspondence (Folders 1-2)

This section consists of biographical sketches, a piece of Gallo’s personal stationary, announcements pertaining to his autobiography, Lucky Rooster; and correspondence.
BOX 1.
FOLDER 1. Biographical Sketches of Fortune Gallo
Sketches of Gallo's life, as well as a sample piece of personal stationary. In addition, included are order forms for Gallo's autobiography, "Lucky Rooster", New York: Exposition Press, 1967 (a copy of which is in the IHRC's imprint collection).
FOLDER 2. Correspondences 1934-1967
This correspondence (primarily 1934-1956 with one piece dated 1967) is relevant to the operation of the San Carlo Opera Company. Exchanges with agents, reporters, advertisers, and artists are typical.


SERIES 2. Bound Directories (Folders 3-19)

Two of Gallo’s business directories—one listing “cities” and the other containing artists, agents, etc.—have been unbound, placed in separate folders, and arranged in alphabetical order as described above.
BOX 1.
FOLDER 3. "San Carlo Grand Opera Company- Cities" 1920's-1950's
This directory of cities (originally found bound) is an alphabetical listing of cities and towns where Gallo's opera company performed. Listed are cities in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Europe. For each city Gallo recorded resident singers, stage managers, etc., as well as theaters and opera houses. Repertoires, advertising schedules, budgets and costs, inventory or props, and booking contracts also form the contents of this directory. Under "G" (Folder 5) is found a biography of Gallo, with "T" (Folder 9) containing a listing of the attractions at the Gallo Theater, 1927-1928.
FOLDER 4. "San Carlo Grand Opera Company- Cities" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 5. "San Carlo Grand Opera Company- Cities" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 6. "San Carlo Grand Opera Company- Cities" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 7. "San Carlo Grand Opera Company- Cities" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 8. "San Carlo Grand Opera Company- Cities" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 9. "San Carlo Grand Opera Company- Cities" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 10. "San Carlo Grand Opera Company- Cities" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 11. "Fortune Gallo- New York" 1920's-1950's
A second directory (also found bound) has two sections, each divided A-Z. This is basically a topical listing giving names, addresses, or phone numbers of associations, attorneys, banks, stock holders in the company, Italian newspapers, and operetta artists (included in Folder 11 is a list of San Carlo Grand Opera Company artists engaged by the Metropolitan and Chicago Opera Companies).
FOLDER 12. "Fortune Gallo- New York" 1920's-1950's
BOX 2.
FOLDER 13. "Fortune Gallo- New York" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 14. "Fortune Gallo- New York" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 15. "Fortune Gallo- New York" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 16. "Fortune Gallo- New York" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 17. "Fortune Gallo- New York" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 18. "Fortune Gallo- New York" 1920's-1950's
FOLDER 19. "Fortune Gallo- New York" 1920's-1950's


SERIES 3. Schedules, Clippings, and Photographs (Folders 20-24)

Included here are: schedules of San Carlo Opera Company (Folder 20); articles dealing with Gallo and San Carlo (Folder 21), including some “over size” material that was removed and placed in a separate “over size” folder; schedules of other opera companies and groups (Folder 22); miscellaneous newspaper clippings (Folder 23); and photographs (Folder 24).
BOX 2.
FOLDER 20. San Carlo Grand Opera Company Schedules 1924-1955
Advertising brochures illustrating "season schedules" as well as individual performances. Also included are photocopy lists (with pictures) of leading artists who performed with San Carlo.
FOLDER 21. Articles on Gallo and San Carlo Opera Company 1933-1946
Photocopies of primarily periodical articles dealing with Gallo and his work as an impresario. Some articles, as indicated, have been removed and placed in an oversize folder.
FOLDER 22. Schedules of Various Opera Companies and Performing Art Groups 1937-1950
Schedules of Chicago City Opera Company, Metropolitan Opera, Essex County Symphony Society (Newark), Hollywood Bowl, and Juilliard School of Music.
FOLDER 23. Miscellaneous Newspaper Clippings 1944-1948
News clippings removed from Gallo's directories that deal with such topics as parole cases, and reactions to President Harry Truman.
FOLDER 24. Photographs
Three photographs of Gallo, two of which picture him with Fiorello La Guardia.


SERIES 4. San Carlo Opera Company Corporate Seals (Folder 25)

Housed in a carton, labeled Folder 25, are the actual corporate seals of the San Carlo Opera Company.
BOX 3.
FOLDER 25. San Carlo Opera Corporate Seals 1927 and 1934
Housed in a carton are the actual corporate seals of the company.



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