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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're a warning warning. To the world. World. War. Louis. Was. The hosts are miles Kasten Deek music critics in the US will be. In the Tribune. And Milton Cross.
When Lee metropolitan opened its 1993 season. It also inaugurated the custom that last to last for the next 17 years. The opera was legal at all and it featured two of the company's well-established staus muscle assembly as Gielda and un Tonio Scotty as the hunchback. The Duke of Mantua for the evening was a Neapolitan tenor making his metropolitan debut. His name was Enrico Caruso. Was. A hoe.
I i i i i. Why are.
They're custom initiated with that performance was simply that from then until 1920 with only one exception every opening night at the Metropolitan had to include Caruso. Oddly enough Caruso's first metropolitan performance was probably his least spectacular. The critics were hardly lavish with their praise. The Tribune found him to be a manly singer with a voice a fine quality but objected to his tiresome Italian mannerisms and Ulrich in the timed remark that he had been forced to repeat down in Mobile way only once which was no more than a matter of routine for singers of much smaller reputation. In any case Caruso succeeding performances began to draw a lot of claim in the scope of the reputation he had last attained is now legendary. Bruno Serato who in recent years served as managing director of The New York
Philharmonic Orchestra was Crusoe's secretary for five years while a tenor was singing at the Metropolitan. Mrs. Atwell reveals some of the incidents which occurred during his association with Caruso while he talked with the producer of this series Richard Calhoun. Just as a writer would what point in Caruso's career did you become His press secretary. I was as secretary of the seas of 1914 1915. I didn't know that it was a before I met him here in New York. During the time that I was asked to do something for the Italian prison in war and I was to tell you the truth. The first paid secretary because he had all his friends who acted as secretary and I stayed with him
until his last performance in the opera December 24 1920. Because he left for Italy on May 27 19 too and he died on August the 2nd. I mean 21 21 is diet enablers. August 2nd 1921. I want to state here a tremendous stupid mistake that their famous film of Jesse last make him die at the Metropolitan Opera House. He did not die they die the other time. Your enablers. I guess for the purposes of moviemaking it was more spectacular to have him actually I aren't. Now.
I was his best man when he married in 9 pin 18 and he was our best man by proxy because he was in it already. On June 15 1920 of course it was always noted to be a very fashionable dresser and I suppose many incidents involved with he was rather a carol and very finicky about its costumes and we always went to the Metropolitan. We were in the dressing room about 6 o'clock of any performance that day and I sort of trash it from civilian clothes. I ask them to ballot one for the civilian and one for the costume at the Metropolitan. They were pressured to civilian every day sometimes twice a day according to the morning or the afternoon or the evening and I'm going to bow out of the
room there is a valid way Press a costume for the OP. I soon as I live in there is smoke one cigarette every hour. Every singer today ask me Did this really smoke a cigarette. Yes he did. Marcus again the one time I am approached you know about 7:30 he drank a jigger whiskey and he used to put his hand forward you know this way and they hand shake. He said I don't know where I'll write tonight. But it didn't show because you know something is going to be wrong I don't know why he had an idea and that he was some cautious of all every performance. Then when we got the check the next day I used to put on the check is impression of the performance and we've found
one this is very very funny in Italian I would say like to the time it cannot be and that means stretch it with the feet of all it's yeah. And sometimes blue sometimes merely goes up sometimes not so good. And. During the performance of anything he used to get a little upset because for him the best audio analysts say the more it is the first run he used to sing of such a ghost that there was war and reform and the uprising was of a mild. The public was already 441 so he would come backstage and said Oh awfully you'll give a biscuit to the pigs or stab biscop to the iPod which
is to say. A bear costume. You ask me that question. It was very careful. And how many times we went to the public library to look over a costume. Over the top of the epoch four students in the case of the force of the steel you know in the case of cents on a dollar and in the case of an I should believe he was very particular. You're asking what a Jew and a rabbi and a friend of his missus should buy to give him a kind of a scarf that they use of the in the past summer festivities. And there is usually today to speak about this more because I don't think I heard any voice of the ghettos or they could satisfy me one on
percent. This is absolutely a personal statement of mine. Nobody satisfies me 100 percent. I think some of them reach 85 percent out of 100 and therefore I prefer not to talk about is sinking except to say that. He was for me a tremendous unless salute to every young singer used to say that the rice 35 years is of the right ripe Maurice that. Can't be with the food and he sang at the metropolitan center 19 or six hundred and seven performances and that was in something like 36 different roles and they sang a lot.
That boy am Tosk much of the west in my book that little brown published in 1922 is a list of all the roles that he sang or literally started it and never sang and all the performances from 1894 right up to December 24 19 20 at the Met above all believe there were probably one of the outstanding things about him was that he was so much more than just a singer you're mentioning that he's a human and very human. You see I have a dual instance to tell you about this for instance. You reckon I use the clock you don't even pay for the clock. But I'm telling you the Metropolitan 77 and 39 street you would find their owners and Mr Shaw was the clock of the Metropolitan and funny to say he had been the solution of the
card. Shaw parameter other than to see us wretched. If you consider what distro because the public in general I LOVE know when to applaud and then you will because they go to the rehearsal and find out when at the end of it and it would break the monotony of their of the performance. Everybody knows the start of a twenty five hundred dollars of a performance. I think everybody know store that the one mistake got the mistake came to the Knickerbocker to renew the contract. Ask him to say I watch money do you want. And they were scared that the car was going to ask really a tremendous fee instead of a laptop. And so with that was one mistake. Am I going to disappoint you. I don't want more than twenty
five hundred dollars because I don't have a voice that is worth more than twenty five hundred dollars. And if the public you know for instance you gave me $3000 they want $500 more of a voice which I got it right. That is impossible and that reminds me of a wonderful cigarette case that he had given to him by the famous impresario while their mucky impresario for the cologne Impala size. I'll give it to you in Italian then that we can as late into English either out with the mocking I would cut out any meat she may know rather leftist and you do say to me do you do you just
our friends to the last over they just absolutely thought it was a very dear friend and it was not a very expensive artist and that enough of. My great boss and regal got over it. There as is generally the case with the celebrities of any sought great opera stars are frequently the subject of many in accurate and wildly exaggerated stories about their lives and careers. Two of the popular misconceptions about Caruso are that he had a great natural voice and that he began his career as a baritone. Both rumors are false. Far from having anything like a natural voice. His first teacher described it as a puny little tenor which sounded like the wind whistling through a window. The voice that finally developed from this in our spacious beginning was the product of the
singer's intelligence and hard work. It was no gift from nature. The notion that Caruso was originally a baritone probably came about because he did become discouraged by the difficulty he had with high notes in his early years and occasionally considered the possibility of switching to the better tone register. Fortunately he always thought better of it. Some of the stories we hear about him though definitely are true Giuseppa Bumble Sheykh was a conductor at the Metropolitan for many years and also served as musical secretary during got because it's his regime. Here the maestro suggests that Caruso's great fame may have been the result of a thoroughly infamous incident having nothing at all to do with his vocal abilities to study after a monkey house in the Bronx.
That made countless sellable of a person bit although I think it all over the whole earth. Yeah but before that he left and I left I don't like it. What exactly was the whole incident. The whole it was you know he did it on a bet he'd have to have a three pound three for the hand of him and looking at the monkeys in the cage. Yeah and then how come every woman who asked quite pompous. Yeah and one of the things that I could think was that all day if I didn't have it to pinch a legend of a so just laughing yet he did it. And that's what I think Dana and I have and I see so far. This same guy he didn't have to sing in pipe alarmist onomatopoeic No but the policeman has on AC. And from that on away and then upon that time he became the paper cutter we've got but we can be quite sure that this incident wasn't the only reason for Caruso's great popular success by any means. One of the
ten is greatest asset says a crowd pleaser is a strong bringing high you see if it is loud and held as long as possible. It's sure to bring down the house. The extent to which the singer carries this brother effect is a matter of artistic judgment and Caruso almost always had good sense in this area while recording for Victor in 1906 However he did ignore all his better judgement long enough to hold the first high C in D'Qwell appear to follow a full 14 seconds after he regained himself. He ordered that the take was not to be released. Fortunately it was preserved and issued after his death. You may want to question the musicality of this touch but you can't deny that. Please forgive the pun. It's breath taking. Oh oh.
Oh oh. Oh oh oh. Oh oh oh oh. A much greater artistic value than that spectacular novelty Crusoe's magnificent
characterization. This was the last of the roles he undertook at the Metropolitan. And by most accounts of the day it was his finest. Mr Joe already mentioned the care he took in selecting his costume for the pod and is also known that he worked out the dramatic side of his interpretation with a veteran Jewish actor from the Lower East Side. His first appearance in the opera was November 22nd 1919 when it was over. One critic wrote with Caruso emerged as a complete and mature artist and one of the finest the world ever saw. The part of Rachel in that performance was rows upon cell one of Caruso's frequent colleagues and a great personal friend of the tenor. Today she still finds the memory of his characterization very much alive. It encompassed so many emotional aspects and he seemed to. I don't know whether he felt this that his end was coming or what. But he never got so lost in a part and had such control over the voice and his makeup and I was simply
aware you just tremble just to think of it it was gorgeous it was too beautiful to put into words. And he's left an indelible mark on everybody who's had heard and saw that performance and to live with him forever. Yes.
Although Caruso's career was abruptly and tragically haunted by his death at 48 it was still one of the longest in metropolitan history and also one of the most influential. From a financial point of view he stimulated the practice of crabbing to the opera simply because it was nearly impossible to buy a ticket for any single performance that he gave. His influence on the repertory was also significant because he singlehandedly helped to establish the operas and also manage to a popular I said works as Aida which until then had never been very enthusiastically received. And not since Jean Duret Skee had the Metropolitan scene such a dedicated artist one who wasn't content to rest with the success that he could have by just repeating a dozen of his popular role.
Instead Caruso worked constantly to expand his repertory and also was ready for a new challenge. After his death the 921 Henderson wrote the following in the sun. Insincerity in forever in devotion to his art. He was the peer of any opera singer in history. He was an indifferent actor and a supreme singer. When he came here he finished his career as a singer less flawless but as an operatic interpreter who commanded the respect and sympathy of the severest critics even when they could not credit him with triumph and success. The Metropolitan had many tenors under its roof during its 83 year history of 31st and the new man will hear many more but it will be very much a surprise if one of them turns out to be another Caruso. Next week we'll take a look at the rest of Connery first season. Until then this is Milton Cross on behalf of my
custom DIC hoping that you'll be with us. Boston 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
Producing Organization
WBUR (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
1903. Features Enrico Caruso, with reminiscences by Bruno Zirato, Rosa Ponselle, Giuseppe Bamboschek.
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: Zirato, Bruno
Interviewee: Ponselle, Rosa, 1897-1981
Interviewee: Bamboschek, Giuseppe
Performer: Caruso, Enrico, 1873-1921
Producer: Calhoun, Richard
Producing Organization: WBUR (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-41-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:00
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Chicago: “Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; 1903,” 1966-10-05, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 3, 2024,
MLA: “Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; 1903.” 1966-10-05. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 3, 2024. <>.
APA: Hall of song: The 'Met,' 1883-1966; 1903. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from