[Met Concert/Gala] CID:115070
Operatic Surprise Party of 1934. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/11/1934.

Metropolitan Opera House
March 11, 1934

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Metropolitan Opera

"Celebrating a Half Century of Progress"

Book by Raymond Knight
Special music arrangements by Robert Armbruster


1. Victor Herbert: American Fantasy Overture
Kurt Ruhrseitz, Pietro Cimara, Riccardo Dellera,
Karl Riedel, Wilfred Pelletier

2. A New Day Dawns (1882)
Iris: Hymn of the Sun
Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra
Giulio Setti, Conductor

3. A Sale Is Made (1883)
Louis D'Angelo, James Wolfe
Wilfred Pelletier, Conductor

[The third section dealt with "the purchase for $24 by the Puritans, headed by Louis D'Angelo, of the site on which the Opera House stands, from the Indians, led by James Wolfe in his Merry Mount costume. The Thirty-ninth Street location is occupied by a lamp post, but when the sale is completed there rises slowly from backstage a small model of the Metropolitan."

4. Opera in its Infancy (1885)
Il Barbiere di Siviglia: Act II Finale
Lily Pons, Henriette Wakefield,
Mario Chamlee, Armando Borgioli, Pompilio Malatesta, Ezio Pinza
Antonio Dell'Orefice, Conductor

["Opera in its Infancy" was illustrated by an operatic kindergarten, where the singers in the cast seemed placed on doll-like bodies, dividing their attention between nursing bottles and the rudiments of song as taught by Antonio Dell'Orefice.]

5. The Gay Nineties (1895)
Martha: Spinning Wheel Quartet
Rosa Ponselle, Gladys Swarthout, Frederick Jagel, Virgilio Lazzari
Pietro Cimara, Conductor

[This was described as "a truly magnificent spectacle" with Rosa Ponselle, Gladys Swarthout, Frederick Jagel, and Virgilio Lazzari "riding bicycles - real ones - round and round in Central Park while they rehearsed the Spinning-Wheel Quartet from Martha. Miss Ponselle's scarlet jacket with leg o/mutton sleeves attracted particularly favorable attention."]

6. Old Wine in New Bottles (1900)
Written, Composed and Directed by Louis Hasselmans
Pearl Besuner, Lillian Clark, Philine Falco,
Edward Alexander, Paolo Ananian, Arthur Anderson, Ludwig Burgstaller
Hugh Cameron, Thomas Chalmers, Frank Chapman, Louis D'Angelo, Alfredo Gandolfi, Charles Hackett, Léon Rothier, Marek Windheim, James Wolfe, Louis Hasselmans, Armando Agnini

[This was described as a travesty of Romeo and Juliet told in terms of American gangster warfare.]

7. Hearing Is Believing (1905)
Written and Directed by Gene Lockhart
Gene Lockhart
Antonio Dell'Orefice, Conductor

["With the denizens of the topmost gallery complaining that they could not hear any of the heavenly `Celeste Aida' aria, Mr. Lockhart proceeded to prove a thing or two. He went through the aria in pantomime, Dell'Orifice conducting, but the gallery got tired of toneless and wordless singing and began to pelt him with ripe fruits and vegetables."]

8. She Knew What She Wanted (1907)
Lauritz Melchior
Marek Windheim
Frank Chapman
Herman Dreeben
Jules Judels
Frederick Vajda
Wilfred Pelletier, Conductor

[This scene "dealt with the sinuosities and abberations of Salome, daughter of Herodias, Princess of Judea, enacted by Lauritz Melchior. Aided by four balloons, placed strategically on his person, he made of the lady a monumental, undulating vision. The scene is set in modern Judea. Marek Windheim, a pint-sized Herod, is seen dialing a call on the house phone, asking John to send up something exciting in the way of a dancer. Salome is promised. She arrives, preceded out of the cistern by five sea-going gentlemen." In the Dance of the Seven Veils, which used Strauss's music only as a point of departure, every time Melchior "discarded a piece of chiffon as big as a handkerchief by throwing it at Windheim, there was a heavy thud from the orchestra." When Salome called for Jokanaan's head, four were produced, and they belonged to New York critics Pitts Sanborn (paper?), Lawrence Gilman (the Herald-Tribune), Olin Downes (The New York Times) and Leonard Liebling (Brooklyn ?)

9. Voice from the Past (1921)

[The first half of the program ended with a spotlight on a vast, empty stage, a spotlight focused on a large drum and familiar clown's hat. Record equipment had been rigged up behind the black velvet drop by the RCA Victor Company at great expense and a re-recording of Enrico Caruso singing "Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci was played.]


1. Orchestral Cocktail (1925)
Vincenzo Bellezza, Tullio Serafin

[An overture medley.]

2. Then Came the Blues (1929)
Rose Bampton, Rita De Leporte
Wilfred Pelletier, Conductor

[Rose Bampton performed in the manner of Helen Morgan while
Rita de Leporte danced.]

3. A Visit to Venice (1930)
Written and Directed by Gene Lockhart
Kathleen Lockhart
Gene Lockhart
Nino Martini
Kurt Ruhrseitz, Piano

[As a tourist and opera subscriber, Kathleen Lockhart investigated the authenticity of La Gioconda's settings.]

4. Opera for Everyone (1931)
La Bohème: Act III Quartet
Helen Gleason
Nina Morgana
Richard Bonelli
Frederick Jagel
Phyllis Bolce
Jay Clark
Aurelio Coccia
Alice Davenport
Riccardo Dellera

[The 1931 event was the invasion of broadcasting, with Helen Gleason, Nina Morgana, Frederick Jagel and Richard Bonelli singing the La Bohème quartet to a Park Avenue apartment on one side of the stage and a Western farmhouse on the other.

Interpolation: Fake interview of an opera star, Queena Mario, interviewed by Raymond Knight.

5. An Audition (1932)
Lily Pons
Rosa Ponselle
Maria Savage
Gene Lockhart
Hubert McIlrevey
Lawrence Tibbett
Kurt Ruhrseitz

[Lily Pons, as a flapper, arrived at the radio studio, followed by Rosa Ponselle as a particularly smart comic opera star, with her small tempermental terrier, Whiskers, and Lawrence Tibbett as a gun-toting singing sheriff, all demanding an audition. Ponselle sang last, Kiss Me, Again, and the dog was hired.]

6. At the Stage Door (1933)
Lucrezia Bori
Giuseppe De Luca
Pietro Cimara, Piano

[The spanish duet performed has not been idenfitied.]

7. Stop, Look List (1933 1/2)
Emanuel List
Karl Riedel, Conductor

["with Emanuel List planted among the bass violins, singing a bass song."]

8. Hail, Hail The Gang's All Here (1934)
Edward Johnson
Otto Soglow

Rose Bampton, Pearl Besuner, Lucrezia Bori, Ina Bourskaya, Karen Branzell, Lillian Clark, Leonora Corona, Ellen Dalossy, Rita De Leporte, Grace Divine, Doris Doe, Philene Falco, Editha Fleischer, Dorothea Flexer, Rosina Galli [Last performance], Helen Gleason, Margaret Halstead, Gertrude Kappel, Lotte Lehmann, Frida Leider, Göta Ljungberg, Kathleen Lockart, Dorothee Manski, Queena Mario, Elizabeth Mayer [Last appearance], Lillian Moore, Nina Morgana, Maria Olszewska, Irra Petina, Lily Pons, Carmela Ponselle, Rosa Ponselle, Elizabeth Rethberg, Jessie Rogge, Thalia Sabanieeva, Mildred Schneider, Grete Stückgold, Gladys Swarthout, Cyrena Van Gordon, Elda Vettori, Henriette Wakefield, Phradie Wells

Armando Agnini, Edward Alexander, Max Altglass, Paul Althouse, Paolo Ananian, Arthur Anderson, Robert Armbruster, Angelo Badà, Vincenzo Bellezza, Artur Bodanzky, Richard Bonelli, Giuseppe Bonfiglio, Armando Borgioli, Ludwig Burgstaller, Hugh Cameron, George Cehanovsky, Otello Ceroni, Giuseppe Cesati, Thomas Chalmers, Mario Chamlee, Frank Chapman, Pietro Cimara, Hans Clemens, Fausto Cleva, Giuseppe Conca, Richard Crooks, Louis D'Angelo, Carlo Del Corso, Riccardo Dellera, Antonio Dell'Orefice, Giuseppe De Luca, Rafaelo Díaz [Last appearance], Carlo Edwards, Arnold Gabor, Alfredo Gandolfi, Charles Hackett, Louis Hasselmans, Ludwig Hofmann, Frederick Jagel, Edward Johnson, Jules Judel, Raymond Knight, Virgilio Lazzari, Emanuel List, Gene Lockhart, Max Lorenz, Pompilio Malatesta, Giovanni Martinelli, Nino Martini, Lauritz Melchior, Giordano Paltrinieri, Wilfred Pelletier, Edoardo Petri, Armando Petrucci, Millo Picco, Ezio Pinza, Karl Riedel, Leon Rothier, Kurt Ruhrseitz, Friedrich Schorr, Gustav Schützendorf, Antonio Scotti [Last appearance], Tullio Serafin, Giulio Setti, Otto Soglo, Giuseppe Sturani, Alfio Tedesco, John Charles Thomas, Lawrence Tibbett, Frederick Vajda, Marek Windheim, James Wolfe, Wilhelm von Wymetal, Jr.

["The curtain then rose on the triumphal scene from 'Aida,' the chorus, garbed in modern clothes, sang the familiar music as they were pushed back into line by the police. The trumpeters played the march in jazz style on stopped trumpets as they headed platoons of marines and boy scouts . Radames, represented by Edward Johnson, drove up in a ford of the newest style, followed by members of the NRA, CWA, CCC and other initialed bureaus of the present regime and saluted the King of Egypt. The King was Otto Soglow, clad as his own creation, the Little King of 'The New Yorker' cartoons. Radames told the interviewer that he owed it all to the NRA and the party closed with the "Star Spangled Banner.'"

Stage Director: Armando Agnini

Program committee: Lucrezia Bori, Rosina Galli, Kathleen Lockhart
Armando Agnini, Vicenzo Bellezza, Artur Bodanzky, Helmy Kresa,
Earle R. Lewis, Joseph Novak, Wilfred Pelletier, Tullio Serafin,
Giulio Setti, Paul Sterrett, Giuseppe Sturani, Wilhelm von Wymetal, Jr.

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