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Fortune Gallo papers

 Collection — Box: Oversize 1
Identifier: IHRC760


Papers (1930-1960) of Fortune Gallo (1878-1970), founder and director of the San Carlo Opera Company, consist of his "personal" books, and programs and newspaper clippings and opera directories describing the work of the Company.


  • 1930-1960


Language of Materials

Mainly in English


Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.


This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

For further information regarding the copyright, please contact the IHRCA.


Fortune T. Gallo was born on May 9, 1878 at Torremaggiore, Italy, province of Foggia, to Tommas and Zelinda Gallo. His childhood was spent at Torremaggiore, where he became involved with music and musicians, especially the “Banda Rosa,” which would prove of importance later in his life. In 1895, aboard the vessel “Werra,” Gallo immigrated to the United States. He worked as a clerk in an Italian bank on Mulberry Street in New York. From that base it appears Gallo became involved in politics on the local level, amassing contacts and influence within the Italian community. Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century the “Banda Rosa” was engaged to play in America. Emanating from this situation was the acquaintance of Gallo with Channing Ellery, a patron of music, that led to Gallo’s work as an advance man from Ellery’s band. By 1910 Gallo had also become manager of another band, operated by Giuseppe Creatore; and in 1911 helped an Italian opera company, stranded in Latin America, untangle its financial difficulties, ultimately assuming its management. Gallo reorganized the company, making an innovation by utilizing local singers (which explains the organization of Gallo’s record books as they appear in the collection). On May 4, 1912 Gallo married Sofia Charlebois. In December, 1913, Fortune Gallo’s San Carlo Opera Company opened with a premier performance featuring “Carmen”. The company fared well, and in 1927 Gallo built a theater, which bore his name, in New York. He not only toured the United States, Canada, Europe, and South America with San Carlo, but in addition, managed Anna Pavlowa’s Ballet Russe, as well as other troupes. In 1929 Gallo produced the first full-length sound movie of an opera, Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci”. Furthermore, he managed the Chicago Opera Company in the early 1940’s. Fortune Gallo’s managerial abilities were lauded because he made opera “pay”. Numerous periodical articles described Gallo’s skills, with one portraying his as having produced opera for the “masses and not the classes”. The impresario, often labeled the “cut rate opera king,” financed and toured with the San Carlo for over forty-five years. He died March 28, 1970. A more detailed description of Gallo’s life is found in this autobiography, Lucky Rooster, published in 1967 by Exposition Press, New York— a copy of which is in the Center’s imprint collection.


1 Linear Feet


The collection has basically retained much of the order in which it was obtained. However, a biographical section (Folder 1) was created by the processor, composed of duplicate materials that were scattered throughout the collection. In addition, correspondence, which was removed from two bound directories, were arranged in chronological order and placed together (Folder 2). The two directories were taken apart, but appear in the exact alphabetical order in which they were found. Items were found pinned or stapled to pages of these directories were unfastened, but remain with the page to which they adhered (placed in a white bond folder). Schedules, clippings, (many removed from the directories) and photographs were found together, but have been segregated into separate folders. The collection consists of four series: 1. Biographical Material and Correspondence (Folders 1-2)2. Bound Directories (Folders 3-19)3. Schedules, Clippings, and Photographs (Folders 20-24)4. San Carlo Opera Company Corporate Seals (Folder 25)


The papers of Fortune Gallo, relevant to the San Carlo Opera Company, were deposited in the Immigration History Research Center about 1970. They were acquired from Helen McShane Del Percio, Gallo’s long-time secretary, and secured by Professor Rudolph J. Vecoli, Director of the Center. The collection is predominantly in English, and consists of approximately one linear foot. It was processed during 1976 by Philip F. Notarianni. Inventory included in the IHRC on-line set of finding aids VITRAGE in 2005.

IHRC Archives
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding Aid in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Immigration History Research Center Archives Collecting Area