[Met Performance] CID:116010
Hänsel und Gretel {134} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 12/25/1934., Broadcast


Metropolitan Opera House
December 25, 1934 Matinee Broadcast


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

Director................Wilhelm Von Wymetal Jr.
Set designer............Joseph Urban
Costume designer........Gretel Urban

Hänsel und Gretel received one performance this season.

Review and Account in unidentified New York newspaper

"Hansel and Gretel" in Matinee Charms Children at Metropolitan Opera House.

With Miss Geraldine Farrar making her debut as radio interpreter for the Metropolitan Opera, the opera went on, literally with a thud, yesterday afternoon and, although the thud caused a short interruption, it failed to mar the presentation of "Hansel and Gretel," either for the 3,000 children in the house or for the radio listeners. Miss Farrar, famous Metropolitan soprano of former years, sang, played the piano and talked from Box 42 over the WEAF and WJZ nation-wide networks of the National Broadcasting Company and WNYC as she will do throughout the season of fourteen broadcasts on Saturday' afternoons hereafter. Seated behind a glass screen in her booth, Miss Farrar was not visible to the audience. A large number of children discovered her, however, as she left the box at the end of the opera and newspaper photographers seized on the chance

Queena Mario singing the role of Gretel in the opera, was entering the stage for the darkened second scene in the forest when there was a sudden halt in the music. For several minutes the orchestra ceased playing and the opera stopped. The interruption was caused by the failing of a heavy counterweight of one of the drop scenes which landed on the stage with a resounding thud. The weight did not strike any one, but those on the stage went through a tense moment or two.

Singer Is Unnerved

It was reported at first that Miss Mario had fainted at the sound, but this was denied. It was explained that she merely had become temporarily unnerved by the loud bang. Few in the audience heard the sound. Milton Cross, the announcer, deftly filled in the pause for the radio audience. Soon the singers were reassured, the curtains parted, Karl Riedel, the conductor, signaled with his baton and the opera went on. With Miss Mario, the cast included Editha Fleischer as Hansel; Henriette Wakefield and Gustav Schuetzendorf as the parents; Dorothee Manski as the Witch, and Dorothea Flexer and Pearl Besuner as the Sandman and Dewman.

It was during the entr-acte that Miss Farrar made the longest of her speeches on the air and sang two of her songs. Playing her own accompaniment, she gave in English the children's prayer, which had just been sung in German by Mario and Fleischer. She added a song from Hurnperdinck's "Koenigskinder," in which she herself: created the role of the Goose Girl in that opera's world premiere here in 1910-11. Farrar recalled how she had sung Carmen with the Sootti Opera Company at San Francisco in 1921, with "one of the sweetest-voiced Micaelas I have ever heard," The young singer, brought to her attention by Mme, Marcella Sembrich, modestly disappeared and was found in her dressing room by Miss Farrar herself, who led her before the footlights for an ovation. "That retiring young person," the speaker added, is Miss Mario, your Gretel of today, who has rightfully earned her stellar position in our opera repertoire and on your radio programs."

New Lights Acid Beauty

What the radio audience missed while Humperdinck's dream music was on the air was the glorified pantomime of angels, which the Metropolitan's new electrical lighting equipment made perhaps more beautiful yesterday than ever before. Those in the house saw the winged dancers descend from an azure background and circle a stage bathed in soft mists of purple, white and gold. The new batteries of lights worked to perfection. One of the new features at the "Met," demonstrated for the first time yesterday, was $3,000 worth of broadcasting panels, microphones and kindred equipment.

Giulio Gatti-Casazza, the general manager of the Metropolitan, listened in at the beginning of the broadcast in the office of Frank Wenker, publicity secretary, to hear Miss Farrar tell how she was "thrilled and delighted" to speak to the audience on the air. At the opera's close Miss Farrar had her last word with the radio listeners as she played and sang the Christmas hymn, "Silent Night, Holy Night."

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