The Edison Opera is one of the most popular phonographs among today's collectors.
Released in November 1911, it was an upscale model meant to replace the earlier Idelia.
The free-standing cygnet wood horn makes this a very striking machine visually, and
the direct-drive motor (no leather belt as in earlier Edison phonographs) results
in smoother and quieter operation. The sound quality of a well-tuned Opera is truly
outstanding, with a motor so quiet it can barely be heard. The reproducer, however,
delivers extremely loud and clear tones. The sound quality is unequalled in Edison
This particular mahogany Opera is serial #10, presumably made on the first day of production (which would eventually reach over 4,600). Only one Opera is known to survive with a lower number (#7). This very early machine is unusual in that a couple of mechanical parts from the Amberola A1 were carried over to the new Opera until stocks were depleted. It is 100% original and in amazing condition.
One unusual aspect of the Opera design is that unlike conventional cylinder phonographs in which the cylinder is fixed in position and the reproducer moves across the record to play, the Opera has a moving mandrel on which the cylinder moves below a fixed reproducer. Priced at $90 in mahogany or $85 in oak, it was originally fitted with the rare Model L reproducer, as seen here. By late 1912 Operas were sold with the heavier Diamond A, designed specifically for Blue Amberol cylinders. Production ceased in 1914.
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