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Richard Bonelli

Richard Bonelli

Richard Bonelli Collection

Baritone Richard Bonelli was born Richard Bunn in Port Byron, New York, on February 2, 1889. His voice teachers were Arthur Alexander in Los Angeles, and Jean de Reszke and William Valonat in Paris. Bonelli's operatic debut was as Valentin in Gounod's Faust at the Brooklyn Academy in 1915.

From 1922 to 1924, Bonelli toured the United States with the San Carlo Opera Company. After touring in Europe with the Max Sauter Company in 1925, he was engaged at the Theatre Gaite Lyrique in Paris. That year, he joined the Chicago Opera Company, and remained there until 1931. In 1932, Bonelli became a member of the Metropolitan Opera, where he worked until 1945.  From 1926 to 1942, he was also a frequent guest at the San Francisco Opera.

After retiring from the stage, Bonelli dedicated himself to voice pedagogy and became a much-appreciated teacher, working at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music and the Music Academy of the West. He died in Los Angeles on June 7, 1980. 

The Collection includes Bonelli's letters, photographs, programs, publications, scores, scrapbooks, posters, newspaper clippings, and other resources.

Rare opera films

In 2002, a grant from the National Film Preservation Board allowed for the digital preservation of two rare moving image compilations, filmed by Richard Bonelli's wife, Mona. The San Francisco Opera footage captures some of the first offerings of the Opera at the War Memorial Opera House, which opened in 1932. Footage includes performances, dress rehearsals, and backstage activities. The Metropolitan Opera footage was taken during the New York premiere of Howard Hanson's only opera, Merry Mount, in February, 1934.

San Francisco Opera, 1933-35 / 1937-39

Table of contents (pdf)

Metropolitan Opera, 1934

Table of contents (pdf)



Jerry McBride
Head Librarian, Music Library
Head Librarian, Archive of Recorded Sound
(650) 725-1146