Lina Cavalieri (Viterbo, Italy: 25 Dec 1874 - Fiesol, Italy: 7 Feb 1944)

Historic Opera
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Lina Cavalieri's Beauty Secrets After her retirement from the opera stage, Cavalieri managed her cosmetic salons in Paris. She was undoubtedly asked many times to offer her beauty hints for publication. In 1914 she published “My Secrets of Beauty,” which offered "More than 1,000 Valuable Recipes for Preparations Used and Recommended by Mme. Cavalieri Herself." Earlier in 1911 Cavalieri contributed her beauty tips to the Femina magazine in Paris, which resulted in a lengthy and interesting testament to the time and thought she must have put into her own personal care. The goddess Hygeia would be pleased with Cavalieri's sensible recommendations of ample amounts of fruits, fresh air, exercise, and rest. Her bathing regimens, however, are questionable. Her bath water was mixed with table salt, glycerine, extract of violets, and aromatic vinegar that she would mix constantly in the water to ward off neuralgia or rheumatism. She would rub her body vigorously with a bath brush and lavender and then rinse in cold water to close her pores! Cavalieri's other beauty suggestions included massaging the nose frequently to keep it in shape, bathing the eyes in an eyecup of rose water to keep them brilliant, washing the face in the warmest water that can be tolerated, using warm compresses to prevent wrinkles and redness, washing the hair once a week, and sleeping with the head low to avoid developing a double chin. Cavalieri's most bizarre beauty concoction was her own cold cream mixture, which consisted of bee's wax, spermaceti, rose water, rose oil, and oil of almond, blended in a double boiler with a wooden spoon. Cavalieri would apply the cream to her entire body while sitting in front of a mirror where she could search, "without pity" for wrinkles, and if found she would massage the area for ten minutes. After the cream was absorbed into her pores, she would wipe off any excess grease. In 1911 when the best indoor lighting was provided by the sun, she would powder her body and then stand in front of a window with a hand mirror for a final inspection! In the years I’ve been collecting opera postcards I’ve noticed that three singers had an enormous number of postcards dedicated to their images. While Geraldine Farrar and Feodor Chaliapin postcards mostly show them in operatic roles, the image of Lina Cavalieri was used in the most diverse and unusual ways. No other opera singer can claim such popularity on the picture postcard. Note the postcard to the immediate left. This is a postcard that can be mailed within a postcard box. Both the postcard and the box have a typical postcard back. The image of Cavalieri has real hair glued to it. Is the hair Cavalieri’s? Did a fan abscond with her salon-trimmed tresses?