Kálmán Agate

The record label indicates Agate Kolmann as the singer, a very odd name. Mr. Schlesinger offers following explanation:
as I said earlier, this is a difficult case.
1. Agate, if it's a first name, would be a female first name, no doubt (I don't think it's known in English, and I'm not sure about French, but in German, it's Agathe, and in Italian, Agata).
2. I found another recording of Agate Kolmann, on a Christian Zwarg CD with a booklet written by Axel Weggen. Weggen doesn't know the singer, either, but quotes the record's label: "heroic tenor of the Chamber Opera Budapest, currently in Berlin". This was in 1921.
3. Agate Kolmann is not in the often-mentioned Hungarian stage artists encyclopedia , and so far, I came across only one single Hungarian singer who was not included there. However, it was Ede Halász, a tenor of precisely the same period as Agate Kolmann.
4. So I also had the possibility to hear the voice. It's not a lady tenor, beyond doubt. The recording is in German, so I can judge the accent. And I confirm it's a Hungarian accent, I'm almost 100 percent sure about that.
5. In any case, though, it seems absolutely ridiculous that a male should be named Agate, the language problem aside. So I'm utterly convinced Agate is the family name! That's the Hungarian way of writing names: family name first, Christian name last - Pataky Kálmán, Svéd Sándor, Simándy József. And having thought about our strange-named tenor for quite a while, I'm now quite certain that he was actually Agate Kálmán - "Kolmann" is the German record company's attempt to translate his name, like Austrians and Germans later did with "Koloman" Pataky, "Alexander" Svéd and so on. Koloman would have been the correct translation, nonetheless I'm convinced also "Kolmann" was meant as a translation of Kálmán and is thus his Christian, not his family name! (Colmanus, Colomannus are the Latin forms of this Irish saint's name; in English, it's Colman or Coleman. Colman, Colmanus, Kolmann... seems definitely possible since the correct German form Koloman is so very little known and really a rare name, as opposed to Kálmán in Hungarian).
6. Agate actually IS a family name - in the US and the UK (James Agate, e.g., a famous theatre critic of the first half of the 20th century), and above all in Sicily.
7. However, it's NOT a Hungarian name (neither a family nor a Christian name). In Hungarian, it's a word, and the same word as in English: agate. A stage name? This is the only shadow of doubt still on my theory. Other than that, I'm sure that he is a Hungarian to be filed under A, not K.
Kálmán Agate singsLa Juive: Grosser Gott hört mein fleh'n
I wish to thank Richard J. Venezia for the recording.
I wish to thank Robert Schlesinger for the notes.

Back to Index