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Olivia Monona papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Monona

Scope and Content of the Collection

Photographs, newspaper clippings, and opera ephemera relating to the career of Olivia Monona.

Collection includes performance photographs, snapshots, and portraits of Olivia Monona and her collaborators in Chicago, Highland Park, IL, and on national tours. Additionally, collection contains portraits, snapshots, passport, and clippings related to Attico Bernabini, famed Italian opera master, and promotional materials for Chicago Grand Opera Company from 1899 to 1943.


  • Creation: 1899-1943



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Olivia Monona papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Olivia Monona Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Olivia Monona

Opera singer and teacher.

Olivia Goldenberger, known professionally as Olivia Monona, was born in 1889 in Madison, Wisconsin. She was raised with one brother, Ben Goldenberger, who went on to become the magician Ben Bergor. Monona received a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied English and became fluent in German, Italian, Swiss, and French, skills that would benefit her career as an opera singer later in life.

Following Monona's graduation from the University of Wisconsin in 1909, she taught English and German at Montfort High School in Montfort, Wisconsin for one year. Following that year, she auditioned for the Chicago Grand Opera Company and began her training for the opera chorus. In 1912 she married her classmate, engineer Clarence Johnson, and moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She spent one summer visiting her grandmother in Chicago, moved back to Chicago, and continued working with the Chicago Opera Company. After a divorce, Monona went on to remarry the violinist Oscar Hanke, and to perform with the Chicago Grand Opera Company and throughout Chicago, with many performances at Ravinia Park. Following her years in Chicago, she continued her music career with the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York, as chorus master and singer of minor roles for contraltos. Later, she retired to Little Rock, Arkansas where she wrote articles and became a public speaker.

Olivia Monona died in 1976.


1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)


Performance photographs, snapshots, newspaper clippings, and opera ephemera relating to the career of Olivia Monona Goldenberger, known professionally as Olivia Monona, from 1899 to 1943. Photographs illustrate the world of Chicago opera and musicals during the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s, with photographs of performances in Chicago, Highland Park, IL, and at the Ravinia Festival. Collection also contains portraits, passport, and news clippings about opera maestro Attico Bernabini.


Materials arranged alphabetically.

Collection Stack Location

1 26 4


Gift of Ellie Jacobi, 2011.

Processed by

Emma Martin, 2011.

Inventory of the Olivia Monona papers, 1899-1943
Emma Martin
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States