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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. Boston University radio presents Hall of song the story of the Metropolitan Opera from 1893 to 1966. You are wrong war. Was where oil. Your posts are miles past indie music critical view of the world for you.
And Milton Cross. Although you are letting it be torn down. You're right it should be a shared 93 years like it's raining out in the garage. You just don't put it on and take it off. This is the house that Scotty and Martin Elliot sang and it was the golden boy she was Mel White Elephant. All of a sudden they don't need it anymore they want to tear it down. I think I'm going to be up at our house since 1938 when i live from Italy and this is my second home. When I think of they're going to close this you know the place. It breaks my heart my little times you know Levy is down and she was mad at me. And she enjoyed it so much. And she you know she practically in tears every time she hears I want to take them back to this house and all it stands for really shouldn't be torn down something to make way for another office building.
The voices you just said played almost as important a part in the Metropolitan's final season of Broadway and 31st as did the voices of the artists performing on stage although everyone agreed on the advantages of moving to the new opera house at Lincoln Center. There was very little to agreement about the fate of the old man from a cold dollars and cents point of view. The most practical thing was to demolish the building. It had outlived its usefulness and even more important the property had already been leased to a firm that planned to construct an office building on the site. The income from the rental would yield considerable revenue for the Metropolitan Opera Association for a period of 99 years. All I know there was simply no point in preserving this cumbersome relic of the past. After one of the very last performances to be given in the old house the Metropolitan's concert master cast the first stone. But he was quickly challenged by some other members of the orchestra the first question is
why should it be saved. For what purpose should it be used. But sonically have always used for many symphonic performances visiting orchestras but what can this really be saved for for the Bolshoi Ballet for the Sadler's Wells ballet. I disagree. I mean the first three and I think the match should be saved just like the Leaning Tower of Pisa should be saved because it's always been there it's been there for many hundreds of years. I got tickets as it was impresario here for many many years. The Golden Age of opera was present in this house for many years and this opera house should be saved for that reason and that reason alone which may seem it may seem not a very good reason to many people but for me it is the best reason because since I was a little boy I was brought up. With the opera and the
best of singers at the MET YOU HAVE TO WAIT A SECOND the Sigmas were still going to have out to the extent that it not be for sentimental reasons. If you mean so much to me this is the house that Ruth was will. That's right he had many many stars have built this house besides me with all due respect of course to use a cliche right. All right. However so far as I'm concerned I'm going to quote as it's absolutely it's absolutely different. Would you expect the south america to tear down the theater of the parish opera. If they should move to a new building you think they'll hear that sound. I tell you right now it's the Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia. No use whatsoever. Carpenters hall or independence hall but it's not I don't read write upon history. I don't have time for my family had defected I don't share New York I had difficulty in supporting Hussein I know your ideas just that when the NBC Orchestra folded now they barely support the New York
Philharmonic. Well they strike I have to agree. I happen and employee from backstage and I have seen the. New York Philharmonic replied three years in a row. To try to get acoustic but they still save Carnegie Hall and why does brains still want to go back to con again. Sorry folks but it really sounds better than I love my call when out now your money varies with it so why should this man was right and I understand that this guy still has my hand against mine acoustics and you understand that you know that that's something that we know made him one destroyed it because I know the reason you see another hole in New York has good acoustics is no reason to destroy the metropolitan I have to put up or is here to destroy this people are looking for houses like this and they're on
Shakespearean plays. There's a dearth of New York City action right now there's no place for people to perform. New York we stand you don't want to go I want all you want but I don't want to say be very realistic about it. Well you know I don't feel this NO NO tonight. You have to support this theater it will take 21 million plus dollars it will take it will take a day and will take eight million dollars to get the money to buy the property and none of what has been in to renovate it. So what we're spending for you know we're spending four billion dollars in Vietnam to do what they have. Certainly we could afford 20 billion dollars a year to support an eyebrow which made people liberal as the closing of the old house drew near to the movement to save the building gained added support from a large group of New York's opera lovers. Their main argument was a sentimental one. Did the
glass and aluminum practicality of a new office building have to prevail over a shabby antiquated opera house that had a value which couldn't be counted in times of real estate or box office. But the impending destruction of the old myth was most difficult to understand for the artists who contributed to the great performance of its past. For them the building would carry a part of their lives with it when it fell. I'm shocked look at Covent Garden in London I believe it's much older than the Metropolitan and there don't take down the orbit I and here they had to take it down. I think it is impossible that they can't use it to something to Bellair to concert to anything I am very upset but you know when you think about common garden metropolitan look at 2:52 story Turmel's fantastic and then just to peel it.
No that was Karen brand sells one of the Metropolitans greatest contralto. And this was Helen troubled reaction. There's always that mythology that come in and I can't imagine the Metropolitan anywhere but where it is. Even those artists who had left America were deeply moved by the thought of the old house going under the hammer. Here is Kirsten talk speaking from our home in Sweden far from New York. But still very close to the Met. I feel very sorry for a very very high. I would like to come to the dock to perform it but I don't know maybe to be a little bit. I think a young mentality want to slay Zajac son of the celebrated tenor Leo slays OC had been intimately acquainted with the old house ever since he was four years old and his father began his career in New York.
Subsequently Juan himself became a frequent guest on the Saturday matinee Opera Quiz and then in 1959 he appeared as a performer on the Met stage when he assumed the part of Japan in the gypsy Baron. It's such a wonderful house. I hate to see it go. All these memories I have been in America now for the last 30 she she has. And whenever I had I was not playing on Broadway. I went. Up every show every performance every opportunity even if I would have waiting at the old address rattled and of course I lived up or all of my child had been an inhibited Abra child myself thank God I didn't have a voice in early April 1966 Mr SES accepted the invitation of our producer to come to America to report on the closing of the old Metropolitan for national educational radio. He spent the whole day of April 16th at the opera starting with a matinee performance of Labu am let's join long a sleaze act now as he arrives at the Met for
the evening's gala farewell concert. Well we're back at the Opera House. I was home at a very fast dinner. I put on my backseat Oh. My horror. And white clothes and from that was the weight on me because she has shrunk I don't know. Anyway the first guests arriving I see in the crowd just Kennedy whole Kennedy clan with aristocracy. And for many many celebrities are coming in. We know their faces but we don't call them names and the photographers and the press man. And it is running in a crowded British press man. All the newspapers all the networks have send their their man with TV cameras snapshots. They all said Who is he who is he famous he has Who is he with his name. They're trying to please release them from another place where you say something from their family lived to be here tonight. So wonderful even
very exciting and so forth. Usually it's the same thing they all say What else should they see Ali in France and they're looking very ravishing as always. I see Nathan Cummings and his lovely wife Diana. He owns consolidated food. I see Fred Lynn Viognier. I know Fred Lynn you know you know you as well as management to being a guarantee citing this is a three ring circus. You know I'm not to send him in the mob you really don't know I think we can do much better things in the new one. Thank you. We're standing outside the Opera House. The doors are still closed. Hundreds and hundreds of people all dressed in the very best for you mean toilets standing and waiting for the doors to be opened. There's very strong security tickets as you probably know cost $200 a
piece each ticket holder gets one. So when your program already there on a short list and the spam in the box with the someone is very soon the doors will be opened and then the tramp. Tried to grab some of the dresses are wearing though I'm not an expert. I never know if it was something you tried. There's a tremendous amount of hair lacquer spread out the hair in the back they all look like well preserved goodness there come something that's very beautiful she has silver on her eyelashes and is a little frightening to look at anyway from where we stand maybe we can see from below it you know there's a small percentage of men in full dress in white and white there are fewer Chapeau plaques
generally doesn't impress me as a very elegant audience. They seem to be rich but not elegant. Predominantly the dresses of the 80s are very long reaching up to the floor and even this hour the best plastic draws on and off you see very up to an attractive women wearing very short above the mean spirits. That seems to be the Vogue I don't know what it startles me every time I look to men coming in raincoats. You know it is not raining. And you. You smell that faint smell of laughter then which has Brazil has never never used during the winter against not. Yet actually comes a man with an opera cape that is lined with white silk I think and not the man of the cap room or his name he looks very elegant and
very much afraid that he won't be noticed. He is being noticed.
You know we are here. For you and here. I go and read your challenge. Oh you think I'm doing tonight. Yeah I think you're right. You know and you can do with it. And hey thanks.
For. Listening. And so the gala farewell to the Metropolitan Opera House is on the way but says there's no room inside for the press which I am now a member of this evening. We are standing in the corridor outside the Grand Tier and catching glimpses through the doors which are standing open because of the terrible heat inside. I see Hawkins original stage manager is calling off the names of the 40 great artists from its past. We return for the surveys. Not to leave your money Matthew merely force. We all walk out on the stage and not as the applause from the audience and the best
seats on the stage. It reminds me a little bit of the last act of our town. The graveyard when they all come out the second chance. But I'm in Allentown they have to carry their own chance at them at their provided NRA called yesterday afternoon at the house when I met many of the singers during a reception given at the Opera Guild. Alexandra keep us well I am heavier your time I mean in Connecticut and I don't care I'm going to know my icon for the match to hear some good singing something I might come to mad to hear from you having made you think working on that every opera and Indiana I think. And they're also putting out with water. Percent it's a fan day same thing. Oh over there were and so we have to be satisfied. Huge generations have its own great singers. Lottery no doubt.
If I make it. Right. When you said you still. Do I have to take the weekend. It's a. No. When I said here I want you to hear anything. Your
parents said to me when you have asked Would you mind if I sang for a singer for you so we did this. And Eric Miller was playing. And he was going fast enough for the last first reading of right. And your father will. Never go after you die. You will never get a. Pretty damn. Wonder. Many of these just by taking a last look. That. One man. Just one glance at. The head sees Mr.. Wright I can only see off of it. This before we had a. New House on Monday. I think both regard for the film.
You know how. Women can look to the future. Come. Back to Me reckon. Thank you. And with you know the face would be complete without. One and this is just. It a FUN OF THE up reveal. Right candidate and the national accounts and the national found them both very fine. I think you made honest possible. Maybe when it was. Well from you. The people in a great many of them they are sick and that's why we have it. But of course now I keep getting the pass and thinking of the few in the new house. We had our student
performance in The New of the of the day last week. And the reading experience. Because of that that they are kids. Many people came to me and said they were states. That. Really and have and when people talk about the acoustics in this house say oh I remember asking for it. So boring. Just an email. To go to Tuscany and ask him to come and make a special. To think that any of Frank Cho come back and do a special. He said. In that house we could fix separately. Who was it that told you so rightly media be makin it and see.
If I can write about the macula. Lady and. My. Son of Sam the architect a poet named South translated them and did it very well. And when she made this quite good with great set written what your memory of a man in 19 very 93 I made. My first. Safer than. I was. In the Bay Area
and I've met. With male. Friends. If he was going to sing. And I think write and write just that and that scene I cried. I am not but. I am doing everything. We. Can we say her time and think a bit.
Yeah I am I am. I am. The the the the the.
When Lang Syne loudly farewell sung his favorite I noticed that very few of the people were saying along knew the lyrics. It sounded pretty good in spite of that. The evening was for men. We're now milling on the street. The cops and one other way of sending the cars of their passengers who just want to board them a way around the block again so you have to wait. There is great great traffic jam and the people walk. With tremendous tremendous torque tremendous noise dance here. And great great hope for the new outlets. And having taken its final bowels and era ended and passed into the pages of history. BLOCK eight hundred and fifteen on the real estate map of New York City is now the site of another
anonymous skyscraper. In the years ahead others will come and go in the same spot and their existence will be briefly noted as they pass by. But the building that stood there for 83 years is a monument to a great tradition will live on in the hearts and minds of all those who knew and loved it. The building that made Broadway and 31st an address known round the world. The building that can most simply be called the Hall of song. And now this is Milton Cross on behalf of miles cast and Deacon our producer Richard Calhoun thanking you for having joined us for these programs. As we say goodbye. To a. Long. Long the thought. Going to.
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Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966
The end of an era
Producing Organization
WBUR (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
The End of an Era. The last day of music at the old Met. Walter Slezak, son of tenor Leo Slezak, joins Milton Cross and Miles Kastendieck to give an account of the farewell concert, April 16, 1966.
Other 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: Slezak, Walter, 1902-1983
Producer: Calhoun, Richard
Producing Organization: WBUR (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-41-39 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:34
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Chicago: “Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; The end of an era,” 1967-05-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 21, 2022,
MLA: “Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; The end of an era.” 1967-05-29. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 21, 2022. <>.
APA: Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; The end of an era. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from