And this day in 1876 Ponchelli’s La Gioconda premiered in Milan.

Birthday anniversaries of conductors Adrian Boult (1889) and Josef Krips (1902); tenors Raoul Jobin (1906), Paul Kuen (1910) and Walter Raffeiner (1947);  bass-baritone Walter Berry (1929), baritone John Reardon (1930) and soprano Sabine Hass (1949).

On this day in 1937, the Metropolitan Opera sold out the 9,000 seat Public Hall in Cleveland, and no wonder!

J. C. Daschbach in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Cleveland opened its tenth Metropolitan Opera season in Public Hall last night by setting a new attendance record.

When the curtain rose on the first scene of Rimsky-Korsakoff’s “Le Coq d’Or,” every seat in the house was sold and more than 9,000 were jammed into the immense auditorium. . . .

And there is no mystery about the cause. To hear either Lily Pons, the great coloratura soprano, or Rosa Ponselle, opera’s most versatile dramatic soprano, in one evening’s performance would be enough to draw a full house. But to have both on the same program could mean nothing else than a hall filled to capacity.

Pons as the queen in “Le Coq d’Or” which opened the double bill; inaugurating the season, and Ponselle as Santuzza in “Cavalleria Rusticana,” which was the second half of the bill, were simply the answer to an opera lover’s prayer. . . .

Whatever the cause of the great outpouring, it was a time when the audience was as spectacular as the stage presentation. As the lights dimmed and then went out in the hall, the reflected rays of the footlights brought into strange relief the thousands of faces peering stage-ward.

It was a startling contrast with the scene presented under the full lighting of the vast auditorium, when the spread of variegation in dress presented a scene as gorgeous as any ever provided on any stage.

Cleveland was all dressed up and had some place to go, and it did just that with a vengeance. Down in the dress circle and the boxes the gowns of the women were accentuated in color by the everlasting black to which man has doomed himself for formal evening occasions.

And the splashes of color were not confined to the front section of the house. They ran all the way from the front rows close to the stage to the last seat in the topmost row of the balcony – far up there near the ceiling.

Those gallery gods in the topmost rows did not make the society columns, but they had a great time, for in that section of every opera house it to be found the real dyed-in-the-wool opera fan.

Those Alpine heights always bring together the group that can hum any part of any opera that happens to be mentioned at any time. And they know what it is all about. They don’t come to be seen, but to see – and hear.


Happy birthday to erstwhile parterre box scribe Joel Rozen.