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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 her the YOU'RE THE WORLD. Your posts are miles past indie music critic in the New York World. Journal Tribune. And noton cross.
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 was some grave doubts as to whether it could go on at all. Not only had the better part of it incurred a nearly half million dollar deficit during the 1031 season it also had a number of other staggering financial obligations. Then you know Julie alone had two hundred and seventy five thousand dollars in fees due him. The resolution of this apparently hopeless situation was a relatively simple one. Re organisation they met about an opera company became the Metropolitan Opera Association which was to have no stock no profit and no property. All of the Metropolitan opera companies other assets scenery costumes and props were
acquired by the association but the company's obligations to people such as jelly 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. Got to get out so I was able to lower ticket prices for the 1932 season from a top of $8 and a quarter to 650. All that the Metropolitan itself lost was $1 even though this reorganization ease the crisis to some extent. Things were far from settled by any means. Gotti took an unprecedented step by cutting the season from 24 to 16 weeks making it the shortest since 1930. An announcement 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 limited public had fared better than some other American opera companies the enterprises in Philadelphia and Chicago had gone completely bankrupt. When our tool Bodansky 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 war. The bankers and the backers. Why they quit. Nevertheless the failure of the Chicago Opera did have one happy consequence at least from the Metropolitans 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 the performance of Seaman Bach Negra the title role was sung by Lawrence Tibbett the first American born American trained male singer to receive this honor. Others in the cast were Maria Miller Giovanni Martinelli and it's the Europeans are the first of the artistes from the now defunct Chicago Opera arrive two nights later when Tito skipper made his debut filling the position of leading tenor vacated by usually shortly after skipper another Chicago performer Richard Donnelly added his fine baritone to the Metropolitan roster making his debut as a mom in trouble after it wasn't long though before the audience's attention was diverted from Italian opera and turned to the German repertory. The main reason for the change was the tremendous impact created by the performances being sung by the renowned dramatic soprano Frida Lyda. This distinguished artist had thrilled audiences a car going around the world for years and their arrival at the Metropolitan prompted Laurence Gillman the comment that she gave young opera girls a sampling of the kind of singing her during the fabulous days before the
war. Let's listen now while Frida Lyda speaking at her home in Berlin. Describe some of the highlights of her metropolitan career. She talked with our producer Richard Calhoun. Well for many years before you ever came to the Metropolitan Madam Lyda you were singing in America with the Chicago Opera as an hour and now two hundred and twenty seven in spring. I sang in a new version in Paris under the direction of one of my outer. And after the second act I heard General Manager Mr. Johnson from Chicago was in that performance. Some weeks ago I met Mr. Johnson and Balin and he asked me to come. November I heard my booth in Chicago
was evacuated and after the whole year to her I heard enormous applause. It wasn't usable to have an applause and I was very happy. And the next day I had to sing Don't I. And after the better difficult year in their second act I had a big success and I was engaged for four years in Chicago and it was usual that reengagement was made after the last performance. It meant that your act just had to give his best and that I wasn't allowed to have a coat in the Italian opera as I sang with Italian seeing as I was saying about one mascot I need 10 million and
let's review in French. And in the German Opera House I sang with Alexander Kipnis very often into you both decide to sing and to that extent acuteness. Later I sang with sort of broken man you know under the direction of Polack German the German conductor and political boss the conductor for it you know about us. He was very nice. When I came to Chicago and we had rehearsed lots of his for Don Giovanni he said to me you are. A bandsaw. And I had to. You've had a successful time in Chicago and I saying it's a great draw and pleasure there when we came with a chick I put out to Boston in spring. We had five or six
performances and one weekend I had I had to sing by a crueller. I wasn't cavalier. Donna and and you ho. The New York press came over to Boston and it was better big trouble when the press brought out. Why is met him a light or not at some metropolitan area. Also I met was up on sale in London where she's signing her famous. Norma and I are saying the whole drama program meant we had lunch together and she was in my hand in the. And the performance of the stand. The evening before and she congratulated me
and said it was and it was jazz and Oh madame louder you belong to us. But I was engaged for Chicago on and on. It was I was a little said then the greatest dream of a singer is always to cling to the Metropolitan. Well it wasn't long after that then that you were engaged by the Metropolitan. As what nine hundred thirty two. There goes your Chicago Opera I had to close after the bankrupt of Mr in saw. And it wasn't sure that Chicago would open after that. Now I was 40 and I had the desire to paint as a metropolitan. It's always the greatest thing for an artist. And after
berry much difficulty us the Metropolitan engaged me and my degree was three stone and he's ordered his make you're under the direction of the dance. When I came to Mr. got because that sir to say how how do you do. He was in his office and he ate his minestrone. He excused and said I love my minestrone. And. How do you do Madam Leyden Please take a seat and we were already in bed a big sympathy. Then he has a hot boys artist and wants all this noble and plan to leap in my du Bruel as he's older and he sat in the wings of the of the scene and regulated the curtains for me and I had to bet a big success when he saw it and
saw many many flowers from Ponce island and all the other colleagues. Freida sure was the holding on his shoulder for you to show a bouncer at that time the greatest support. I sang Betty Betty often to him. Roberts was my my Tristan. For so many years we had the greatest times together in Covent Garden where we sang proficiencies and at the Covent Garden but for German opera. Did you find that the womanly differences between the Metropolitan and Chicago. It's not so easy to speak about that. We had we had more money in Chicago as it was simpler for the artists. We were not forced to sing all our guarantees in the last season
and I sang 20 performances and I had to get on TV for 30 performances and after the season I got the check over $10000. In the meantime the department's August Rogers was always short in money. You're perhaps remember the surprise parties in metropolitan Demeter Persian money difficult. And after a surprise party of Misirlou creates a border you bury elegant and very nice and smiling head to big basket and went before the curtain and asked the audience to give money. And many many checks came from their balconies and all that. Then she gave her thanks and gave her thanks. That is that for a basket you know.
Would 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 one of your other roles. Yes. After two seasons and I had meeting with Scott because that's her and she asked me. But I'm glad you brought. Reducing next season and as you're doing I want to sing my people told The Daily Show and he said oh no we have sing it's annoying for the public and then I said don't and I don't have money oh that's not our own. Repaired twat and so on and I was a little angry then you know I didn't like to sing all this Wagner and Fanfan all day and all that yes. Then I had to Betty because in Chicago back to the pattern I was not on the not at Summit to Politan. That's a reason that I didn't feel so happy and so metropolitan
the audience of the metropolitan was most all of disparate polite and Betty Lafferty inside of the metropolitan was a better elegant and wonderful acoustic it was sped easy to seeing there and I hope that you will mature portable have been the best and the same acoustic like the art house of some traditions where the greatest singers have sung. On this way I send my best anti-theist to vicious. What a successful future for the new army took part in the consummate odd history. Afraid a lot is inspired singing is Abba demonstrated by an interpretation of the climactic immolation scene from got to Demerol. A little bit
little. Bit little Louie. And. Little here a little bit of. Lip. I am.
I am. You. You.
You. Yeah. There's.
Anger. Yes. And yes and
and. And. Yes and. In the very next season Frieda Leiter was joined at the Metropolitan by
another of her colleagues from the Chicago Opera the beloved lot a layman that I am a layman will be with us next week to talk about her metropolitan career and I hope you will join us too for know this is Milton Cross on behalf of miles cast in the thanking you for listening. 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
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 May 29, 2023,
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. May 29, 2023. <>.
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