Regina Prager, was born in Lemberg in 1866. She received a little musical training in her home town but then went off to sing as a chorister in Poland. Prager was an excellent actress and praised as an extremely talented performer. She had aspirations to become an opera singer, but was apparently convinced by Avrom Goldfaden to remain in the Yiddish theater and performed the lead roles in his two operettas, Shulamit and Bar Kochba. Josef Rumshinsky also mentions her “introspectively religious, modest lifestyle” as having contributed to preventing her from an operatic career. Prager was the leading lady of Yankev Ber Gimpel’s Lemberg Yiddish theater by 1893 and her reputation - in a time before the publication of Yiddish sheet music or recordings - was so great that by 1895 she was recruited to come to America to perform at the Windsor Theater. Prager’s New York successes caused competing troupes to bring other prima donnas from Europe, most significantly Bertha Kalish. With the ascendancy of younger performers such as Jennie Goldstein and Molly Picon, the repertoire began to shift and Prager’s operetta voice was not really suited for it. Nevertheless, she continued to perform in starring roles at least through the 1929–30 season.
Regina Prager & Kalmen Juvelier
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