Regina Prager

Yiddish theater actress & singer

Yiddish actress and singer Regina Prager was born in Lemberg ca.1866. Prager began her stage career at Yankev Ber Gimpel’s Yiddish Theater, where she quickly became one of the forefront actresses. Prager’s popularity was so widespread that in 1895 she was recruited to come to America to perform at the Windsor Theater in New York. In order to contend with Prager’s star status and box office earnings, other theaters searched for new European female stars to bring to America. It was during this time that Yiddish theater star Bertha Kalish was recruited and brought to New York. The two prima donnas, along with their fans, were in constant battle with one another to prove their superiority.

In addition to her busy acting schedule, Prager made several recordings including: Shenkt A NeduveShabes, yontef, un rosh khoydesh from Abraham Goldfaden's Shulamis; and several songs on the album, World Famous Artists Sing Oldies Of The Yiddish Theatre. Prager collaborated with a number of prominent Yiddish theater composers. Her performance of Sholom Secunda's song Heym Zie Heym (Home Sweet Home), became an instant hit and catapulted Secunda’s career. Trained as an opera singer, Prager had a powerful voice described by Joseph Rumshinsky as, “dramatic, even, and rich sound that could easily change into coloratura and staccato and obtain the lightness and suppleness of a real lyrical soprano."

Photo from Jewniverse website.