Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 25, 1931: Hansel and Gretel Opera Broadcast on NBC

December 25, 1931: Radio came to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City with Lawrence Tibbett as the feature vocalist on this date. Hansel and Gretel was its first opera and it aired over the NBC network of stations. Olin Downes, the moderator, conducted a quiz in between acts of the opera by asking the celebrity guests questions pertaining to the opera. One interesting fact is that Milton Cross, who was the host/announcer in the program, did his job out of the Met's Box 44.

The performance of the Hansel and Gretel Opera on Christmas Day was the beginning of The Met’s own live Saturday radio broadcast series on NBC.  The Opera's sets and costumes were designed by John Macfarlane, with the lighting designed by Jennifer Tipton. The Opera won over audiences and critics in Cardiff. The popularity of Hansel and Gratel earned it an Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production in London. The Met presented a stellar international cast, featuring mezzo-soprano Alice Coote as Hansel, soprano Christine Schäfer as Gretel, and tenor Philip Langridge as the Witch.

For additional classical and opera radio shows, see also:

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