[Met Performance] CID:109680
Hänsel und Gretel {125}
Pagliacci {304}
Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 12/25/1931., Broadcast

(Broadcast

The broadcast of Hänsel und Gretel inaugurated the matinee series that continues to this day. Pagliacci was not broadcast.
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 25, 1931 Matinee Broadcast


HÄNSEL UND GRETEL {125}

Hänsel..................Editha Fleischer
Gretel..................Queena Mario
Gertrud.................Henriette Wakefield
Peter...................Gustav Schützendorf
Witch...................Dorothee Manski
Sandman.................Dorothea Flexer
Dew Fairy...............Pearl Besuner

Conductor...............Karl Riedel


PAGLIACCI {304}

Nedda...................Myrna Sharlow [Last performance]
Canio...................Giovanni Martinelli
Tonio...................Giuseppe De Luca
Silvio..................Claudio Frigerio
Beppe...................Alfio Tedesco

Conductor...............Vincenzo Bellezza

[Hänsel und Gretel was broadcast complete, inaugurating a radio series that continues to this day. The performance of Pagliacci was not broadcast.]

Review and Account in TIME magazine

Met on the Air

Tucked away in the sedate red-&-gold interior of the Metropolitan Opera House last week, hidden in wings and footlights, were half a dozen intruders in those almost sacred precincts - microphones. To the "Met" they represented a compromise and a new source of income - an arrangement with National Broadcasting Co. reported to bring $250,000 for 25 broadcast operas. To the U. S. radio audience, it was briefly exciting - speeches by NBC's President Merlin Hall Aylesworth and Board Chairman Paul Drennan Cravath of the Metropolitan, sounds of the orchestra tuning up under Conductor Karl Riedel, echoes of an audience which included many pleased youngsters. Engelbert Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" was the opera, the first whole performance to be broadcast from the Metropolitan. Composer Deems Taylor, official narrator, sat in a little glass booth in one of the grand tier boxes, describing music and action to radioauditors. In another soundproof booth were an expert with score in hand, ready with warnings to tone down drum beats and bass notes, and an engineer watching the volume-registering needle.

Soon after the onset of "Hansel und Gretel" came telegrams of praise. Director Giulio Gatti-Casazza, pleased as Punch, had been popping to & from the backstage office of Press Agent William J. ("Billy") Guard, where a receiving set had been installed. Chairman Cravath was impressed. "A miracle! . . ." said Radio Conductor Walter Johannes Damrosch. The engineers who had succeeded in making the whole country (and several further parts of the world) an opera house, said that the old part-wooden Met was much easier to work with than Chicago's handsome new opera house, whose concrete tends to give off bass echoes.

Only one feature caused protests. Narrator Taylor, thought many, narrated too much and too freely. Suitable were his introduction, name-spelling. Christmas greetings in French, German, Italian. But he talked during the music. Telegrams poured in: "Tell announcer to stop talking so opera can be enjoyed." "Is it possible to have Mr. Taylor punctuate his speech with brilliant flashes of silence?" Next day, during a broadcast of two acts of the 100th anniversary performance of Bellini's "Norma," Narrator Taylor was less garrulous.



Backstage photograph of first matinee broadcast group by Carlo Edwards.



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