Music: Prima Donnas

In the 1910s, when shapely, grey-eyed Geraldine Farrar was the most shimmering star of Manhattan's Metropolitan, operatic prima donnas were the world's most galumptious glamor girls. In 1922, before her cult had time to die, 40-year-old Soprano Farrar retired from the operatic stage to live a secluded life on a Connecticut farm. Last week she published her autobiography,* a curiously constructed narrative half of which is written in the third person as though seen through the eyes of Soprano Farrar's deceased mother.

The daughter of "Syd" Farrar, who played first base for the...