PELHAM, N.Y. - Even if passersby recognize the architectural gem that is this stately home for sale at 134 Harmon Ave. in Pelham, they may not know the property contains a little bit of American opera history.
The home was once owned by the renowned Metropolitan Opera tenor, Frederick Jagel, and his wife, soprano Nancy Weir Jagel.
A native of Bushwick, Brooklyn, Frederick Jagel was born in 1897 and came of age as an opera singer when radio was growing in popularity and starting to bring the art form to audiences far beyond the few cities that had opera houses.
"It's marvelous for people far away from the cities, people out in the river valleys and on the Plains" to hear opera via radio, he told the Brooklyn Eagle in 1941 . He said he had received fan mail from people in far-off places after they heard recordings of him on radio.
"I got a cable from my father-in-law in Scotland, who had happened to tune in while I was singing," he said.
Jagel's wife, Nancy Weir, was also an opera singer. They met onstage in Rome, when the two played the lead roles in a production of "Pagliacci." He had found previously that many of the female leads chosen to sing opposite him were disappointing and expected the same from Nancy, he told the Brooklyn Eagle.
He didn't pay her much attention at first, but by the end of the second act of their first performance, he had arranged a dinner date with her. They soon married and started a family.
Jagel had sung in Europe for some years before making his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1927, as Radames in "Aida." He sang with the Met for 23 seasons, doing 217 performances in 34 roles. He can be heard in many old Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts, notably as Pollione in "Norma," opposite Zinka Milanov, and Edgardo in "Lucia di Lammermoor," opposite Lily Pons.
With Jagel's success - Nancy had stepped off the stage to raise their sons - the couple moved to the suburbs and bought the beautiful home at 134 Harmon Ave.
The living areas have 10-foot ceilings, French doors, a vintage library with leaded glass bookcases, and an open living room that has a 20-foot stone fireplace under a coffered ceiling. A second floor balcony with an oak balustrade surrounds the living room and leads to the bedrooms.
It's on the market now with an asking price of $1.2 million, offered by Houlihan Lawrence. You can see more photos of the gorgeous property on the website, here .
You can hear a recording of one of Jagel's performances in the attached YouTube video.
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