Bertha’s Playlist

Sadly, there are no recordings of Bertha Crawford singing. However, there are recordings of many of the people she performed with during her life. You can listen to some of them here, and get some idea of what Bertha and the musicians she worked with sounded like.

When Bertha was a child she probably saw, and was inspired by, Canada’s first international opera star, soprano Emma Albani (1847-1930). Here Albani sings Gounod’s Ave Maria, recorded in 1905. (Source: The Virtual Gramophone, Library and Archives Canada.)

In 1908, Bertha was a member of Toronto’s Orpheus Quartette, under the leadership of Canadian baritone, Arthur Blight (1874-1928). Here he sings Israfel, by Oliver King, recorded 1916. (Source: The Virtual Gramophone, Library and Archives Canada.)

Early in her career Bertha performed in many Ontario communities. In Guelph, she appeared alongside Canadian tenor Edward Johnson (1878-1959), who later became a big star with the New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Here he sings The Maple Leaf Forever, Canada’s unofficial anthem at the time, recorded in 1928. (Source: The Virtual Gramophone, Library and Archives Canada.)

1909-1910 and 1910-1911, Bertha toured across Canada in a concert party lead by Canadian baritone, H. Ruthven MacDonald (1865-1949). Here he sings Crossing the Bar, by Turner, recorded in 1922. (Source: The Virtual Gramophone, Library and Archives Canada.)

In early 1913, Bertha went to Italy to study opera under the Italian soprano Emila Corsi (1870-1928). Here Corsi sings Ma dall’arido stelo divulsa…Mezzanotte! from Verdi’s Ballo in maschera, recorded in 1912.

December 19, 1913, Bertha sang with Italian baritone Riccardo Stracciari (1875-1955) in Rossini’s Barber of Seville in Warsaw. Here he sings Figaro’s aria, Largo al Factotum, recorded in 1925

March 23, 1914, Bertha sang with Russian tenor Dmitri Smirnov (1882-1944), in Rigoletto in Warsaw. Here he sings Duke of Mantua’s aria, La donna è mobile, recorded in 1921.

February 10, 1915, Bertha debuted in opera in Petrograd (St. Petersburg), Russia, on the same stage, in the same week, that Russia’s superstar baritone Feodor Shalyapin (1873-1938) appeared in Dargomyzhsky’s Rusalka. Here he sings the aria of the Miller.

February 14, 1915, Bertha was scheduled to sing opposite Russian tenor Nikolai Figner (1857-1918) in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette. Here he sings Romeo’s aria, Ah, lève-toi soleil, recorded in 1908.

April 24, 1915, Bertha gave a concert in Petrograd and Russian baritone Joachim Tartakov (1860-1923) joined her. Here Tartakov sings Romance of the Demon, from Rubinstien’s The Demon.

March 5, 1916, when Bertha held a recital in Tampere, Finland, she was accompanied by the Finish pianist Kosti Vehanen (1887-1957). Here he plays his composition, Savuke (cigarette).

April 21, 1919, Bertha sang at a concert with the Warsaw Philharmonic alongside Polish soprano Janina Korolewicz-Waydowa (1876-1955). Here Korolezicz sings Smutna piesn (Sad Song), by the Polish composer Zarzycki. Bertha performed Polish songs by Zarzycki.

June 14, 1924, Bertha sang opposite Polish baritone Adam Didur (1874-1946) in Rossini’s Barber of Seville, at the Warsaw Great Theatre. Here Didur sings Don Basilio’s aria, La Calunnia, recorded in 1916.

In the 1930s, Bertha was compared with top Polish soprano Ada Sari (1886-1968). Here Sari sings Gilda’s aria, Caro Nome, from Verdi’s Rigolletto Bertha often performed Caro Nome.

August 22, 1935, Bertha sang in her last concert, with conductor Reginald Stewart (1900-1984). Here Stewart plays Toccata in C major by Robert Schumann, recorded in 1932. (Source: The Virtual Gramophone, Library and Archives Canada.)