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The following program was produced for National Educational Radio under a grant from the National Home Library Foundation by WBUR Boston. Boston University Radio presents Hall of Song, the story of the Metropolitan Opera from 1883 to 1966. The most important question in the minds of New York Opera lovers as the time for the
1932 Metropolitan Season drew near was, is there going to be a season? The previous year had made it quite clear that it was impossible for the company to go on in the old way and now there were some grave doubts as to whether it could go on at all. Not only had the Metropolitan incurred a nearly half million dollar deficit during the 1931 season, it also had a number of other staggering financial obligations. Benjamin O'Geeley alone had $275,000 in fees due him. The resolution of this apparently hopeless situation was a relatively simple one, reorganization. The Metropolitan Opera Company became the Metropolitan Opera Association which was
to have no stock, no profit and no property. All of the Metropolitan Opera Company's other assets, scenery, costumes and props were acquired by the association but the company's obligations to people such as Geeley all were waived. Another important part of the reorganization was that the association had the status of an educational institution. In this way the tickets for any opera performance were exempt from the amusement tax. As a result of the exemption, Garekizatsa was able to lower ticket prices for the 1932 season from a top of $8.25 to $6.50. All that the Metropolitan itself lost was $1. Even though this reorganization eased the crisis to some extent, things were far from settled by any means. Garekizatsa took an unprecedented step by cutting the season from 24 to 16 weeks, making it the shortest since 1933.
It was made, stating that the sale of subscriptions for the 1932 season was expected to return to normal. Despite the lower prices and shorter season, this expectation was not fulfilled and there were whole rows of empty seats at almost every performance. Still the Metropolitan had fared better than some other American opera companies. The enterprises in Philadelphia and Chicago had gone completely bankrupt. On Artur Bodanski heard the news, he said, this is not like your real Americans, but it is decidedly like those who use opera for their own social ends. I say it was the artists who saved this distinctly great American institution from going to the wall. The bankers and the backers, why they quit. Nevertheless the failure of the Chicago opera did have one happy consequence, at least from the Metropolitan's point of view, because it released a number of fine artists from the contracts which had prevented them from singing at the Met.
When the 1932 season opened on November 21st, it was with a performance of Simon Bockenegra. The title role was sung by Lawrence Tippett, the first American born, American trained male singer to receive this honor. Others in the cast were Maria Mula, Giovanni Martinelli, and Ezio Pinsa. The first of the artists from the now defunct Chicago opera arrived two nights later when Tito Schiepper made his debut, filling the position of Leading Tenor vacated by Gile. Shortly after Schiepper, another Chicago performer, Richard Bonnelli, added his fine baritone to the Metropolitan Rasta, making his debut as Guillermo in Atraviata. It wasn't long, though, before the audience's attention was diverted from Italian opera and turned to the German reputory. The main reason for the change was the tremendous impact created by the performances being sung by the renowned Dramatic Spreno Frida Leider. This distinguished artist had thrilled audiences at Chicago and around the world for years.
And her arrival at the Metropolitan prompted Lawrence Gilman to comment that she gave young opera goads a sampling of the kind of singing heard during the fabulous days before the war. Let's listen now, while Frida Leider, speaking at her home in Berlin, describes some of the highlights of her Metropolitan career as she talked with our producer, Richard Galhoun. Well, for many years before you ever came to the Metropolitan Madame Leider, you were singing in America with the Chicago opera, isn't that right? In 1927, in spring, I sang Donna Anna in an Italian version in Paris under the direction of Bruno Walter, and after the second act, I heard that General Manager Mr. Johnson from Chicago was in their performance. And some weeks ago, I met Mr. Johnson in Berlin and he asked me to come to Chicago. And in November, I had my debut in Chicago with Valkyrie.
And after the whole year to whole, I had an enormous applause. It was not usable to have an applause and I was very happy. And the next day, I had to sing Donna Anna and after the very difficult area, in the second act, I had a big success and I was engaged for four years in Chicago. But it was usual that your re-engagement was made after the last performance. It meant that the artist had to give all his best and that it wasn't allowed to have a cold. In the Italian opera, I sang with Italian singers.
I sang Barwin Masquerade in Italian and La Jouille in French. And in the German opera, I sang with Alexander Kippness, very often. And he was a very good recital singer too, Alexander Kippness. Later, I sang with the Rudolf Bockelmann, Rudel, under the direction of Pollack, the German conductor. And Pollack was the conductor for Italian operas. He was very nice. When I came to Chicago and we had rehearsals for Don Giovanni, he said to me, you are a bonsorda. I had a very successful time in Chicago and I sang with great joy and pleasure there. When we came with the Chicago opera to Boston in spring, we had five or six performances
in one week. I had to sing Balkyrie, Rosenkabelier, Donna Anna and Fidelio. The whole New York press came over to Boston and it was a very big trouble when the press was not out, why is Madame Leider not at the Metropolitan? I met Rosa Poncelli in London where she sang her famous Norma and I sang the whole German program and we had lunch together and she was in my, in the performance of Tristan, the evening before and she congratulated me and said with enthusiasm, oh Madame Leider,
you belong to us. But I was engaged for Chicago and it was, I was a little sad then, the greatest dream of a singer is always to come to the Metropolitan. There wasn't long after that then that you were engaged by the Metropolitan, is what 1932? The Chicago opera had to close after the bankrupt of Mr. Insor and it wasn't sure that Chicago would open after that. Now I was free and I had the desire to come to the Metropolitan that's always the greatest thing for an artist and after very much difficult us the Metropolitan engaged me and Madame
Leider was Tristan and dissolved with Mekure under the direction of Bodanski. When I came to Mr. Katika Zatzer to see how, how do you do? He was in his office and he ate his ministry only, he excused and said, I love my minister and how do you do Madame Leider and please take a seat and we were always in a very big sympathy. Then he has a heart for his artists and was always noble and friendly. In my debut as a soldier he sat in the wings of the scene and he regulated the curtains for me and I had a very big success for his older and so many, many flowers from Poncelle
and all the other colleagues. Friedrich Shaw was at that time the greatest vote, I sang very, very often with him. Flowers was my Tristan, for so many years we had the greatest times together in Karren Garden where we sang for 15 seasons at the Karren Garden for German Opera. Did you find that there were many differences between the Metropolitan and Chicago? It's not so easy to speak about that, we had more money in Chicago. That was more simple for the artists and we were not forced to sing all our guarantees. In the last season I sang 20 performances and I had a guarantee for 30 performances and
after this season. I got the check of $10,000 in the Metropolitan bus all the shortish was all the shortish money. You will perhaps remember the surprise parties in the Metropolitan, the Metropolitan was in many difficult and after a surprise party Miss Lucretia Borey, very elegant and very nice and smiling, they had a big basket and went before the curtain and asked the audience to give money and many, many checks came from the balconies and all that and then she gave her thanks and gave her thanks with that full basket. Did you have the same problem that so many other Wagnerian singers had at the Met in that
you were only allowed to do Wagner in none of your other roles? Yes, after two seasons I had a meeting with Gatica Zatza and she asked me Madame Ladem what will you sing next season and I said I want to sing my favorite old Fidelio and he said oh we have, I think it's annoying for the public and then I said Donna Anand and she told me oh that's not optimal on our repertoire and so on and I was a little angry and then I didn't like to sing all this Wagner and Wagner and Wagner all the years then I had a very big repertoire in Chicago but the repertoire was not on the not estimate to polyton and that's the reason that I didn't feel so happy and at the Met in polyton. The audience of the Met in polyton was all this very polite and very lovely.
The inside of the Met in polyton was very elegant and wonderful acoustic it was very easy to sing there and I hope that the new Metropolitan will have the best and the same acoustic like the old house of traditions where the greatest singers have sung. On this way I sent my best and heartiest wishes for a successful future for the new Metropolitan. The consummate artistry of Frida Leida's inspired singing is amply demonstrated by interpretation of the climactic emulation scene from Guttedemarong. The
setting evening sales
crash sales sales sales sales sales sales sales sale there When, live inside! Little patient who gods my lecture tends herself
to get the habit of a crime. Here, come. Please stand by the window and let her roam on this rock and caress her one day. First, let us know it on the screen why we were surprised by the place, and for this sort of wasteland... This is no different view. Let us know it on the screen why it was a ghost... Come and pray, May God bless you.
? But they will not dissolve
Herfnutим Now there is more that What is that things? And more this way, Because I know how it will Monique Translated by
of No!
No! No! No! You're the only one! No! You're the only one! No! No! Oh my God! Oh my God! No! Come,list! Do not touch me! Do not touch me! I do not touch your head... Like this comes my stumble... Altima!
I don't want anything. I don't want anything. In the very next season, Frida Leider was joined at the Metropolitan by another of her colleagues from the Chicago Opera, the beloved Lotter Laman. Madame Laman will be with us next week to talk about her Metropolitan career, and I hope you will join us too.
For now, this is Milton Cross on behalf of Miles Castindic, thanking you for listening. Austin University Radio has presented Hall of Song, the story of the Metropolitan Opera from 1883 to 1966. 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
1932 Through 1933
Producing Organization
WBUR (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
1932 -1933. The Metropolitan Opera Association is formed. Soprana Frida Leider talks about her career in New York.
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: Leider, Frida, 1888-1975
Producer: Calhoun, Richard
Producing Organization: WBUR (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-41-21 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:40
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Chicago: “Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; 1932 Through 1933,” 1967-01-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 12, 2024,
MLA: “Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; 1932 Through 1933.” 1967-01-20. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 12, 2024. <>.
APA: Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; 1932 Through 1933. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from