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The following program was produced for national educational radio under a grant from the National Home Library Foundation by W. B U R Boston. To go with. Boston University radio presents Hall of song the story of the Metropolitan Opera from 1893 to 1966. You're the one. You're going anywhere. Or are. Your hosts are miles cast indie music critic of The New York world where you are. And cross.
Has the Metropolitan's 1939 season progressed it became clear that a number of outstanding new artists want to be added to the company's roster. The first of these had been held on trial though from whom we had on last week's program. And it wasn't long until she was followed by the distinguished Russian Basso Alexander Kipnis. Surprisingly enough Mr hipness had made his first appearance in New York 15 years earlier when he sang with the all German company that had been organized by Leo black and white America. As had happened with so many other artists however Alexander Kipnis was delayed in coming to the Metropolitan by a number of engagements with other opera companies all over the world. Fortunately for the Metropolitan though his voice was as fine in 1039 as it had been in one thousand twenty four. Let's listen now as our producer Richard Calhoun talks with Alexander Kipnis about his illustrious career at the Old Met Mr. KIPP has your
career in America actually began a good number of years before you started singing with the Metropolitan. Were there any particular reasons for those maybe weren't so anxious to sing at the meadows of those or and or repertory conclusions that it had to do with everyone. As far as I can remember everyone is very anxious but the Metropolitan Opera. Everyone is dreaming about the Metropolitan Opera. During my time when I was still a student every up to every one of this conservatory or everyone who has ever been able to sing a scale always dreaming about the Metropolitan Opera. The reason that I am saying in the United States before I became a member of the Metropolitan is a very simple one. I am here in one thousand twenty three. I
would like nearly an opera company. And we have appeared in my head an opera house. And our performances were quite successful during our appearances in New York. Mr. Samuel insults as well as many gardens and some of the conductors have attended our performances. And after the first performance of mice to sing I sang. I received a call on the following morning from my representative an agent cattle agent in Berlin. If I would be interested to go to a cheap cargo of course this was the height of the information. You could buy for $300 I was in coffee you know
and of course I said yes. Then they asked me Would I be able to sing. Being a bass I never sang aboard but if they would ask me to sing or tell no I would have accepted it because of the idea of living in America and making money in Dallas which was about up something which everybody everybody was dreaming I was offered a contract by Samuel in so many gardened was the man in charge that I am of the opera. George are a product of the conductor. I accepted the contract for five years and after the five years they really engaged me for another four years and I stayed there until 1932 when the very famous or infamous stock
crash in the United States came. Then I went back to Berlin. So all the while you were a Chicago the Met was still in the back of your mind. Oh definitely. But in 1932 during the crisis she got opera close its doors. I was already engaged to the Berlin State Opera and I stayed at the Berlin opera until 1933. Then I went to Vienna. And I stayed until 1930 eight and nineteen thirty seven. I signed a concert tour toward the United States and I was engaged to the Metropolitan and I was with him at about and from 1939 until 9pm. 45 I think but I probably 546.
Well you made your debut then in Parsifal my girl and I'm sorry and yet I was supposed to make my debut in anybody's going to love. But Johnson told me the performance of Boris Godunov was so unattractive. This scenery Borat was not very good at that time. The performance as such was not totally commend for an artist to make a deal. And he advised me to choose another part. So I chose passive. It's not an opera to make a sensation like the single who sings body good or knob or Pellow or ego left out but it is a very great part go elements a subeditor singable pad beautifully
written for the virus and I came through a very well do you know the old Little joke. I base was asked which is your most favorite part and he said My favorite part is half an hour and wrangled and he was told. Why Fafnir it doesn't have very beautiful music to sing and it doesn't have great possibilities to act. You said it's true but which are part of show me do I have a chance to kill another bass I was not obliged to sing this part but one of my colleagues who was supposed to sing it became ill and I was asked to to replace him and this colleague of mine who sang partner because if you know the
performance was not it is not a very very kind college and at the end of the opera he really but with a big long stroke he had some pantomime kills him and and I thought it might be very tempting for that base to do that. So when the music came in in the big timpani and started the head to indicate the killing I was already in my dressing room after I left the stage as if so this I dont want to mention the name of that colored by the colored but capable to do that but we were actually in what might be called the Golden Age of Wagner at the met with them. You know lame on MLK or yourself from zero top dog all these people. Yes and you must not get flack stepped through as that is my discovery. You as well probably don't know it but
I discovered flags that many people will claim they are not but I have the evidence. In 1932 I was spending the summer in Zurich and a boy from door tell why I stopped came out and asked me to come to it and he had a telegram in his hand. I was asked and handed over the telegram and I was asked if I could sing. Mark King Mark when possible. I telephoned the same evening to my manager and after assuring me that he was acceptable I went to Oslo and we had a very hassle and in the evening the promise was on all the singers of this promise born of region
that the bass was also a knot between men. A very very fine voice but unfortunately he was a he was at times a very thirsty. And when he saw her as he started it lasted usually three months. You couldn't stop it. So he was the only one who couldn't go on. So since I originally came from Russia so they thought Well Russia is not very far away from Norway. So I was the closest one to into an obedient caste. Since I started my career here I always spend the first act and dress down and backstage. I love the music and I love to hear the singers and there was a soprano. Who had an exceptionally lovely voice. The voice was
beautiful and warm and voluminous. And the person who sent these or it is all of them also have very good looking person. After the first act I usually go backstage and put on my makeup and then I had my big sister aria to sing. Then don't get in there love the second act. After the second act I tried to talk to this person who sang is all of them but she didn't understand any German. She didn't understand any English. And of course I couldn't talk to her and in Russian. But but I'm gain it is seeing a brain gain it was the translator between us and I asked this person if she ever sang outside of the sky. Scandinavian countries. She said
no she didn't. Would you like to go. I asked her. She says Certainly I would. What is your name. She said My name is flax that. So I said Where can I reach you. She gave me the address of her or tell where she was living. Her husband was the director of this hotel and I said you're going to hear from me. I went back to Berlin and I spoke to my intern dunned Intendant his general manager and teacher and I told him about this person. About a week later he said to me you are a prodigy. Was he here and saying in addition and you are correct. I engaged her by a right to sing one of the Val Curtis one of the Norman norms. END. In case of emergency to be a substitute for Sieglinde and this
was the first occasion that flags that came out from Scandinavian countries to sing outside of her atmosphere. This is my personal discovery. If you should see or read or hear about somebody else it's not true. She remembered I suppose always that you were the one about her out of Norway and our worldwide fame and pulling the following year when I came to two in Oslo to sing a recital. I was received not as Mr kidneys but here as the discoverer of obnoxious powerful acts that you were saying of course both with the flood and light or whether any great differences in interpretation. Yes flax dad had this magnificent voice and a certain coolness
approach to her path and patents. Life had a magnificent voice. Spiritual he spoke speaking she penetrated into her paths like seldom anybody whom I've known but the quality of her voice was not nearly as PD and some of us brilliant as flex that's voice once. This was the difference from Flagstaff after her performance. The best thing in the world was a glass of champagne for life. As part as I know the best thing for her was spiritually going through the park again and asking ourselves the question why did I do wrong
or why did I do all right in my path. She was a great artist. You say a good deal with Tippit too didn't you. Yes I sang that tidbit Peleus inmate is on. When I sang with him he was a wonderful girl LOL. And he was a wonderful colleague a great artist and a great personality and we all loved him. I sang with many good laws. My best memories for best goal was Vanni Markku and George but a lot of. We sang this operad together but Mary Garden and this was an unforgettable experience. I saw Mary Garden on the stage already crying tears came
out of her eyes she could not go on singing and then after the second act when I use a cane after Singh's seizure did you decoders arm the keratin was already down and she was still crying and couldn't stop crying. And the polling day I received a letter from her some time I'm going to publish this letter it is a mistake to say it was our best bet. She wasn't bodies and this is all the whole difference many many people can seen beautiful apart they can act beautifully about but many many garden boards and made his own. Producing your own arcs with a lot of lemon. Yes well most of the time I sang with a lot of them and it was uncovered here and in London
and Berlin and here in London it became almost a disaster. Beecham was opening the season in the Covent Garden and we had frozen Coverly as an opening but from us and beach him they didn't speak any German but he wanted to conduct Rosenkavalier. And there's and there's also a give and take There's one joke comes up there another joke and he doesn't know it was a joke of was it a bad remark or so. So we didn't have a chance. And it came to the point but we all decided we will cancel a performance. But there was a conductor German conductor used to hate us. He said you cannot cancel the performance you have to sing. I will be in the first and don't look to beach and look to me. I will conduct you. And this is the way it has a way about my behavior and something. Well when you were at the Metropolitan Opera Osvaldo was conducting still in some things do you
remember him. I remember one day Mr. Siegel who was at that time assistant general manager of the Met. Ask me what my opinion would be about the rule of our town since I sang with him a great deal. I said to him Mr. Ziegler I don't have to tell you the qualities and the knowledge of Mr. Walters if you ask me what I think about them while conducting the Metropolitan Opera. Surely it would be a great benefit to the Metropolitan Opera. But you also have to think about defacto you belong to Metropolitan Opera but one of Alta loves of a hassles and they are very useful in the editing necessarily. But supposing if somebody takes away the
time from other operas. And the other conductors will not have a chance to read heads they are us because Walter will take away their time. What do you think of that. Imagine I said on Fifth Avenue when all those beautiful lovely fast cars are running 30 40 miles an hour and suddenly all the electric can move moved only 10 miles an hour is there and blocking the traffic for the entire day. Well was he so interested in a long and detailed rehearsals as well not to detail the hassles. And not very long very hazardous but long enough. It's good that the ATIS can take from the conductor from this case from the
water. He's way of conducting singing and Asians. He was also very gifted as a stage director. We had Mozart festival. In Paris the stage director of French famous actor didn't have the slightest idea about Mozart and about Don Giovanni is having to be undone. Don't you have any. I will cast toward French singers Italian singers in jam and sing us dork and stuff cause was completely French. Here we had a rock as though they have some French the stage director completely could wait he didn't know. He simply said go ahead and do what you want to do I am got the slightest idea so I will give you my name but I cannot I don't know what Don Giovanni is.
But one of out of us conducting the R. Castro and speaking to the orchestra and in French under stage he was looking in telling to us to dissing us how the positions how to change where to go what to do. To some in Italian to some in French and to some in German. And at the same time conducting the orchestra and connecting the instruments. This was really a feast of brain work. At the same time drama music languages and we brought art and it was an excellent performance. He did great things. He did many things which were not so great in that's a very pleasant. But they don't belong into the area of art or music. He was as a person not the most courageous
individual. This is the the this the most the most I can say about him. I would like to do say a word about those who called the golden age of the Metropolitan. And in general about the golden age of the book it's. I remember sitting one beautiful afternoon in by a riot after a hassle and Siegfried was asked what his is. He's opinion about the golden age of the singers of by right at the beginning. Later period and the present. This was 1930 and
Izzy creed said of cause everyone thinks and talks about the singers of the past they mention these Cindy's Sten or who sang the first there is TON of this in this Barrett encore center first of all time or this and this. So when Anna was saying the Prez Bernadette. Here I can tell you he says that every generation has its own golden period. Surely there's a check but I'm very very great tenor. But here we have many Kyar at present time. Mr. So-and-so was a great Baudin But here we have shore Mr. So-and-so was a great basso who sang growing amounts. But here we have you and we have under Razan. And
in this is a really two room when he's looking over the list of singers of the past and of the present even at the Met. We had great names great generals gets a pass but we have to be had great conductors. But we have great conductors at but it isn't time to shoot each individually. We had only one Cardozo and one Toscanini these sort of these kind of the promise possibly would come one in 300 years. This is an exception but to still say the golden age of the Met or the golden age of by a right order or the golden age of Saudi's book we have every generation has its own. I would stand singers no finer example of Alexander
Kipnis rich sonar Spasso can be found than this recording. I've been decent heilig in Holland from The Magic Flute. Oh ah.
Next week we'll be back at the Metropolitan to hear all about the career of another of the company's distinguished artists. The American soprano Eleanor Steber I hope you will plan to join us then. For now this is Milton Cross on behalf of miles cast and thanking you for listening. Where. With. Boston University Radio has presented Hall of song the story of
the Metropolitan Opera from 1883 to 966 the series is created and produced by Richard Calhoun a grant from the National Home Library Foundation has made possible the production of these programs for national educational radio. This is the national educational radio network.
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Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966
Producing Organization
WBUR (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
1940. Russian basso Alexander Kipnis recalls his years at the old Metropolitan. He recalls how he discovered Kirsten Flagstad.
Series Description
Documentary series on history of the Metropolitan Opera Company ("The Met") in its original home at Broadway and 39th Street in New York. "The Met" closed its old location on April 16, 1966. Series includes interviews and rare recordings of noted performers.
Broadcast Date
Performing Arts
Media type
Host: Cross, Milton, 1897-1975
Host: Kastendieck, Miles
Interviewee: Kipnis, Alexander, 1891-1978
Producer: Calhoun, Richard
Producing Organization: WBUR (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-41-28 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:32
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Chicago: “Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; 1940,” 1967-03-24, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; 1940.” 1967-03-24. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; 1940. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from