The CLEVELAND OPERA CO. grew out of the Studio Club, organized in 1917 under the direction of Francis Sadlier to give light operas in local theaters. Following a week's run of Victor Herbert's Serenade at the COLONIAL THEATER in 1920, the Studio Club reorganized as the Cleveland Opera Co. for the purpose of producing grand and light operas. Its first season (1921) consisted of Mikado, Serenade, and Fortuneteller at the Colonial Theater. Directed by F. KARL GROSSMAN, by 1923 the company was capable of mounting Il Trovatore featuring Metropolitan Opera star Lila Robeson. The Cleveland Opera Co. was engaged for the premiere of a new "all-American" opera, Alglala, by Akronite Francesco de Leone (composer) and Cecil Fanning (librettist), which took place at the Akron Armory on 23 May 1924 with Mabel Garrison and Edward Johnson of the Met in the cast. Another premiere produced by the Cleveland Opera on 7 Mar. 1927 was the Irish folk opera Love's Wishing Well by Marion Campbell, who soon thereafter became the third Mrs. ALEXANDER WINTON. In 1928 Grossman left for Europe, and Francesco de Leone became musical director of the company, which continued to perform light opera for several seasons. In its later years the company was also called the Cleveland Opera Assn., and then the Opera Guild. Although its precise date of demise is uncertain, its efforts were continued by a group formed in 1932 by Rudolf Schueler called Friends of Opera. For several years during the 1930s, this group performed in school auditoriums, Public Hall, CAIN PARK THEATER, and churches, presenting standard operas such as Carmen and The Merry Wives of Windsor in English. Merged into the Federal Music Project, the group continued until 1937.

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