thumbnail of Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; 1926 Through 1932
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
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. Her. Cool. War with. The world. Your posts are miles past indie music critic in the New York World. Journal Tribune. And noton cross.
The Metropolitan's 1926 season found everything going full steam ahead as the giddy effects of college prosperity were felt had Broadway in 31st in the same way as they were across the country. It got to his artist's contract as general manager had been renewed for another five years at the end of the 925 season and this announcement prompted the Herald Tribune critic Lawrence Gilman to suggest that the impresario be engaged for life. The critic also observed that if the company's financial position was really as secure as Gotti claimed it might be a good time to remedy some of the Metropolitans artistic shortcomings. Still the public was quite satisfied with what the metropolitan provided and there was no indication of a decline in their enthusiasm just as there were no signs of a decline in Coolidge prosperity. Feeling supremely confident God he announced that the 1926 season would run for 24 weeks with a
repertoire of forty eight operas. Even with the extended season there were still to be a great demand for tickets and so the top price was raised to $8 in the quarter. No one suspected then that in only a few years it would be nearly impossible to give tickets away. The 1926 season opened with a performance of spontaneous best talent in the cast upon sell lari vault and a lock up. This was also the occasion for the debut of an imposing new bestseller although it was well received at his debut. No one foresaw the outstanding career he was to have in later years among the party sang during the first metropolitan season was rampant in Aida. Here he is joined by Giovanni Martinelli as Ratta mes in the temple scene. You're all
meet. The. Water Boy meat. You don't know me. Oh no. There'd be. A whole lot you know I order. The.
Way. Load it the FCA OH OH OH OH OH OH OH OH
OH M O ye OK. Eh eh. Oh Oh Oh Oh-Oh Oh yeah. Oh yeah oh eh. Yeah OK. Oh i l o o o m n o rā low. Oh OK. O n o rā. Hundred the.
Bill the. The. Blow the heat. The Heat. Yes that was it.
That was. The work that received the most attention and interest during the 1960s and was deemed tale is the king's henchmen after the premiere on January 17. Every day Henderson reported that it was the best American opera this public has heard. As a result of the work's enthusiastic reception Otto Kahn commission tended to start in on another opera three years later the result of this effort emerged as Peter Ibbetson the season's other premiere was touring docked with Laura vault and a look in the leading roles. Despite the fine cast and the extravagant production by Joseph urban the opera it self met with considerable criticism. Laurence Gillman described it as bloated futility and Olan Downes noted as a first night success and an ultimate failure. When the 1960s and ended Henderson turned in his summary review
the venerable and shabby logic Conda lamely done an inefficiently song had eight performances on either had nine and the last of them was a truly sorrowful revelation. Before Nerys and Mr Bonan are correct because they draw money the collarless phantasms of Brunnhilde then you've sold it which piped their pallid walls into the awestricken auditorium. You are correct because they draw money. The dull and heavy footed interpretations of one work after another with mice to sing a hanging the most ponderous weight of all about the neck of the season are correct because they draw money and the amount of that draw certainly was considerable when the 1926 season was over. Godey's books showed a profit of one hundred and forty two thousand dollars the largest since the war. The next season offered even more a larger profit and a larger repertoire. Money was still no object to the opera going public and one subscriber who couldn't use his opening tickets in the seventh
row orchestra advertised them for sale at fifty dollars apiece. The throng of photographers was on hand to get shots of the jeweled first nighters as they arrived at the house. The smoke from the camera's flash pans was so dense that it drifted into the auditorium. Someone smelled it turned in an alarm and soon a squadron of fire trucks was at the scene to head to the opening night climber. The divergence of critical and popular opinion was ironically demonstrated by the choice of the opera for that opening. It was the very same turned out that had been so Romney criticized when it had its premiere the previous season. This time critic Henderson declared that the work was all dressed up with no place to go. The high point of the 927 season came when rows upon sale sang her first Norma her performance in this operate demonstrated in Henderson's opinion that the ripening of our talent has been the result of a growing sincerity of purpose and earnest study.
The evening had been one that was worthy of the tradition of the Metropolitan. At the close of the 1927 season got because Arthur was able to boast of more than one hundred and forty four thousand dollars profit because there had been a large number of double bills presented during the year. WJ Henderson remarked that the Metropolitan had succumb to the two a day business as the 1928 season got underway. It became clear that what had previously been described as the company's stability might now be better termed inertia. No outstanding artists made the abuse and the only thing there was to distinguish this season from the bun that had preceded it was the addition of four novelties to the repertoire Strauss's had lain a clinic's journey of this big compound as a medicine and present these flower get a lot of gold. Unfortunately none of them met with any success for the rest it was strictly business as usual. On April 13th criticism of the Metropolitan
and its management reached the editorial page of The Herald Tribune in particular the paper cited a lack of coordination of authoritative direction and over frequent appearances of fourth rate singers in important roles. The Metropolitan gave no rebuttal in July. Geraldine Ferraro described the Metropolitan as a well regulated stock company. Just how well regulated the company was was proven by still another profit at the end of the season the following year. Not even that could be offered in defense of God because it says management. The 1999 season at the Metropolitan was played against the backdrop of the stock market crash while the financial effects of this disaster were not felt immediately because the subscription books had been closed before the collapse. There were some new artistic difficulties to be overcome. Arthur Budowsky had withdrawn from the Met at the end of the 928 season and his replacement for this year was Joseph Rosenstock. His first assignment was described as one of the most impressive performances of demise to sing in many
years. The new maestro himself was described as a well schooled Kapellmeister with military stick tendencies. He went on to conduct Rosen cavalier Val Curie and another mice to sing then developed about the metropolitan management describes the symptoms of a nervous breakdown shortly after this Rosenstock asked to be relieved of his contract. The surprise a happy one too was the Bodansky is planned upon leaving the metropolitan the not worked out to his satisfaction and so he was re-engaged to find new talent was added to the company when Gladys without made her debut as in a performance of love to conduct on November 1st. She sang a number of small parts this season but soon established self as a skilful interpreter of such leadings metal soprano roles as Delilah. Was
God. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah I was. Thinking. Of you eat it it. Was looking at it.
I am. Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah yeah. Yeah yeah you. Yeah yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Good.
Yeah you good good it is. Yes. Yes. Yes. It was. The 1929 season was bolstered by new productions of Luisa Miller from
Sadko Plus a revival of the girl of the Golden West. Nevertheless there were not enough to brighten this overall picture. The season's end of the day Henderson commented wearily the faded works have been performed over and over and over again. Most of the time with mediocre singers going through their roles like so many robots when the 1930 season opened the Metropolitan had one million one hundred thousand dollars in the bank and everyone assumed that this would be more than adequate to sustain any difficulties brought on by the Depression. Everyone was wrong artistically the season went as so many others before it. Novelties included Strauss's Boccaccio restored skis the ferret Sargent most gun years iris and the eagerly awaited Peter Ibbetson of Deems Taylor. None of the ventures met with much success. It welcome relief came on January 3rd when Les pongs made her debut and Luke Henderson summed up his reaction by describing her as Mr Gattis little Christmas gift from a kind
Providence. One of the highlights of Palm's lengthy metropolitan career was up a trail of mock me a role which became almost synonymous with her name. Were. There. Any. Eat.
Eat eat eat. Eat. Oh. Good. Good.
Some of the difficulties which plague the Metropolitan during this period were pinpointed by Ernest Laird
stage director who left the company at the conclusion of the 1930 season in a magazine article he wrote. It is not opera that is dying. Only the traditional method of presenting it despite the most experience impresario the most lavishly paid conductor and the most highly publicized the most bombastic scenic artist the Metropolitan's lack of coordination made the results of their efforts nothing more than a variety show as a stage director. Laird had no say in selecting casts even for new production. And was expected to have the most complicated operas in the repertory ready for a performance after three or four rehearsals. If this complained of inadequate rehearsal time had a familiar ring it might have been because the same objection had been raised in 1915 when Arturo Toscanini took his leave of the Metropolitan. While the loss incurred during the 1929 season had been negligible. The one showing on the books for 1930 could not be overlooked. Three hundred and twenty
two thousand dollars. This depleted one third of the Metropolitans reserve never honest to God because odds are did not curtail the company's activities for the 1931 season it ran the normal course of 24 weeks with the usual quantity of new productions and revivals. Has the time for the opening drew near however it became evident that this business as usual approach was ill advised. The first blow fell on October 26 when Otto Kahn announced his resignation from the position of chairman of the board got his out sir later said that this move caused public apprehension about the metropolitan stability. Whatever the cause the annex catastrophe was a 10 percent falling off in subscriptions by the end of the first month of the season. The returns from the general public which purchased its tickets on a day to day basis had declined so sharply that a record breaking deficit was unavoidable at this point. Gotti took action he proposed the voluntary cut
of 10 percent in all salaries to save the an estimated $200000. Everyone agreed with two important exceptions. The first was the company's leading tenor Benyamin who was also the highest paid singer. The other exception was the secretary of local aid O'Toole of the musician's union who refused to go below the minimum of one hundred and twenty eight dollars a week. Although Paul Provenza who was filling out a cons position on the board emphatically declared that any possibility of bankruptcy was out of the question. No one was ready to suggest how the Metropolitan proposed to meet its obligations. Julie alone had two hundred and seventy five thousand dollars coming to him over a four year period. There was one happy note in the midst of all this discord however and I am pleased to say that it was one with which I was connected. On Christmas Day 1931 the performance of Hensel was
broadcast from the stage of the Metropolitan Deems Taylor was a commentator and I was the announcer. The two of us along with all the radio operators were jammed into the edit chamber a buck forty four in the Golden Horseshoe. It was quite a hectic time but a really wonderful experience for all of us. The Metropolitan was especially pleased because the revenue from the broadcasts which were underwritten by NBC they added $100000 to the books. Unfortunately it was only a drop in the badly leaking bucket. The company's musical activity during this season was all but completely overlooked in the financial furor. There were a few notable debuts and most of the attention went to Ernestine human hunk who had returned to singer in Siegfried the great contralto was already past 70 and yet only down reported that her performance still took the breath away. The negotiation of a new contract was particularly difficult at the end of the 1931 season. She
returned his agreement to get in told the press. My sincere efforts to work out a solution have been met with conditions and impositions that would have diminished my dignity as a man and an artist. Gaddis response was to produce a letter that was signed by all the singers who had been reengaged. They accuse you of lack of cooperation esprit de corps at the time many proud that the artist had been offered their new contracts with one hand and a letter with the other. They were clearly expected to sign both documents for one reason or another. Maria Jarrett Michael Bohn and Max Lawrence and Clarence Whitehill also decided to sever their connections at the end of the 1931 season. Then the soul the carefree period of financial and artistic security had ended the deficit was the largest in several decades. Nearly half a million dollars for the remaining three seasons of Godey's management the production of operate the metropolitan was a constant struggle. Next week we'll learn what steps were taken to
save the Metropolitan from bankruptcy. We also have the great pleasure of hearing Frida Lyda the outstanding dramatic soprano who made her debut in the 1932 season. Tell us about her notable metropolitan career. For now this is Milton Cross on behalf of miles cast in the week hoping that you will be with us. 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.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966
1926 Through 1932
Producing Organization
WBUR (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-qr4nqj84).
Episode Description
1926 -1932. The Depression brings almost complete financial disaster. Otto Kahn resigns from the Met's Board of Directors. Voices of Ezio Pinza, Grace Moore, Gladys Swarthout, Lily Pons are featured.
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
Performer: Pinza, Ezio
Performer: Moore, Grace, 1898-1947
Performer: Swarthout, Gladys, 1900-1969
Performer: Pons, Lily, 1898-1976
Producer: Calhoun, Richard
Producing Organization: WBUR (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-41-20 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:20
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; 1926 Through 1932,” 1967-01-17, 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; 1926 Through 1932.” 1967-01-17. 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; 1926 Through 1932. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from