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Osie Hawkins Collection

Identifier: MC 147

Scope and Contents

Materials in the Osie Hawkins Collection are in three series containing his biographical information, correspondence while working at the Metropolitan Opera House from staff, family and friends; photos of Hawkins, relatives and colleagues; and an impressive collection of operatic sheet music and songbooks. The sound recordings are on reel to reel and contain classical and operatic works, some are of the Met.

Series I: Biographical Information, Personal Correspondence and Photos

The first series contains biographical information, correspondence from 1941-1990, photographs of Hawkins in his varying operatic roles, autographed photographs of his fellow opera stars and other personal ephemera.

Series II: Sheet Music and Song Books

This series holds sheet music and songbooks collected by Osie Hawkins throughout his life. This series contains two parts: the first part is sheet music and songbooks that have annotations by Hawkins and others. The second part consists of all other materials pertaining to the series title.

Series III: Sound Recordings

Arranged by artist, this series contains Osie Hawkins' music collection of opera, classical music and audition recordings.


  • 1875 - 1970

Biographical / Historical

Osie Hawkins was born on August 16, 1913 in Phenix City, Alabama. He received his education there and in schools of nearby Columbus, Georgia. He took an active part in the Drama and Glee Clubs in school and decided to work towards a career on the stage. He began his early vocal study with Lila Methvin, Director of the Columbus High School Glee Club, and then began with the eminent teacher, Margaret Marie Hecht, of Atlanta, in 1937. After four years of intense study, Miss Hecht invited Erich Leinsdorf and Frank St. Leger to hear Mr. Hawkins, on the 1940-1941 Spring Tour of The Metropolitan Opera of New York to Atlanta.

Mr. St. Leger and Mr. Leinsdorf were so impressed with the potential qualities of Mr. Hawkins' voice that they arranged, with Mr. Edward Johnson, to have an audition held on the great stage of the Metropolitan Opera House for him. Mr. Hawkins received a scholarship, the first of its kind ever given by the Metropolitan, to train him for the operatic stage, particularly in Wagnerian operas. After a few months of preparation, Osie Hawkins debuted in the role of Donner in Das Rheingold, and the critics and public received him most cordially. The management immediately awarded him a contract. He had over fifty roles to his repertoire, including those in Italian, French, and English, in addition to the German roles.

In the course of his operatic career, Osie Hawkins appeared in 53 roles and in 39 works, staging 960 performances. Although most of his performances were in secondary roles, he also portrayed some major Wagnerian characters. Hawkins made his debut at The Metropolitan Opera on January 22, 1942. Some examples of his roles are Wotan in Die Walk├╝re; Telramund in Lohengrin; Amfortas in Parsifal, and others. He also sang in the premiers of Mussorgsky's Khovanschina in 1950 and Verdi's Macbeth in 1959. His last singing roles in the house were during the 1964-65 season, although he returned to the stage in the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons in the speaking role of Mr. Archdale in Porgy and Bess.

Osie Hawkins became The Metropolitan Opera's executive stage manager in 1963, shortly before the end of his singing career, and remained in that post until January 1978. After his retirement, he worked with The Metropolitan Opera in artist relations and other areas for many years. Very ill, Osie moved back to Columbus in the last year of his life. He offered to come to Columbus State University to coach the opera production Cosi that year, but died in Phenix City on July 13, 1993 at the age of 79.


8 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Donated anonymously in 2001.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Columbus State University Archives and Special Collections Repository

4225 University Ave
Columbus Georgia 31907 United States