Esther Stoll

German Opera Star and Paula Abbul of the 1950s Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts

Soprano Esther Stoll was a star of the German opera in the late 1920s singing principle roles in Wagnerian Operas.  After touring in the U.S. in the 1930s with the Grand German Opera Company she retired from performing and became the Head Talent Scout for the popular radio and television show Arthur Godrey’s Talent Scouts.   The Paula Abdul of her era, working on a very popular talent show, she discovered a Who’s Who of popular singers and comedians in the 1950s.

In 1899 at the age of four Esther Stoll moved to Beaver, Pa with her family.  She began singing classical melodies as a young girl in her family’s kitchen learning from her mother.  He father Nathan was a devoted opera fan.  After graduating from Beaver High School in 1914 Esther wanted to study music in college, but could not afford tuition. At age 17 she became a first grade teacher at the rural Woodland Grammar School.  Using her earnings she took private voice lessons at Geneva College in Beaver Falls.  She exercised her voice singing at the Presbyterian Church of Beaver Falls.  She later studied voice twice a week in Pittsburgh with Vera Kaighn.  Esther taught school for three years saving her money to study in New York.  Moving to New York City she continued her voice lessons while working as a substitute teacher and singing at the Bnai Yoshurum Temple.  Her financial situation eased when she won a scholarship with vocal teacher Herbert Witherspoon, whom she studied with for four years. In 1925 Esther studied voice in Chicago. 

A wealthy music patron financed her music studies in Europe.  In 1926 she studied as music conservatories in Italy, France, and Germany.  Esther was able to sing in four languages; Italian, French, English, and German.  She studied with Bruno Walter in Berlin, who helped her obtain a position with the German State Opera Company.  She made her professional debut in 1927 singing the principal role in "Johnny Spielt Auf" at the the Staatstheatr in Kassel Germany.  She quickly became a prima donna singing leading roles in Wagnerian Operas.  She sang in the major German Opera houses until 1930.  With the rise of Hitler and the stirrings of war she returned to the U.S.  She joined the U.S. based Johanna Gadski's Grand German Opera company touring the U.S. during the 1930s.  Returning to Beaver, Pa for a visit in 1930 she performed a special concert at Beaver High School accompanied by Antonio Modelli.

Retiring from the opera she taught voice lessons in New York City.  Radio and television Arthur Godfrey was one of her first students.  He hired her as the Head of Auditions for his Talent Scouts.  Esther work on the Talent Scouts show for ten years.  Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts show was a radio and television which ran on CBS from 1946 until 1958.  Each week Godfrey’s "talent scouts" brought three discoveries to the show to perform.  A winner was picked each week determined by an audience applause meter.  The radio series began on July 2, 1946 and was aired on Tuesday evenings,  The televisions series premiered on December 6, 1948.  It was the highest rated television show for the 1951–1952 and remained highly rated during the 1950s.  Show contestants included Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Vic Damone, Steve Lawrence, Eddie Fisher, Al Martino, Connie Fransis, Leslie Uggams, Patsy Cline, Wally Cox, the McGuire Sisters, Pat Boone, Jonathan Winters, and Lenny Bruce.  The final show aired on January 1, 1958.

Returning to Beaver County Esther Stroll lived with her sister in Midland until her death in 1973.

Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts

Grand German Opera Tour 1930-31