Listening and discussion begin at 2:00 PM.

In the 1950s and 60s the American Opera Society, founded by Allen Sven Oxenburg and Arnold Gamson, produced many star-studded concert performances of rarely encountered works at Town Hall or Carnegie Hall. Notable were Cherubini’s Medea with Eileen FarrellGiulietta Simionato in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i MontecchiJennie Tourel’s La Grande-duchesse de Gérolstein, and even Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as Orfeo ed Euridice (with Lucia Popp as Amore!)

Joan Sutherland made her NYC debut with AOS in 1961 as Beatrice di Tenda beside Marilyn Horne in her local debut and together they reappeared four years later in SemiramideRenata Tebaldi and Carlo Bergonzi sang both La Wally and Mefistofele (with Nicolai Ghiaurov) for AOS which also hosted Elena Souliotis’ notorious 1967 Norma, as well as her less controversial Anna Bolena opposite Horne, Janet Baker and Placido Domingo.

In 1965 Horne canceled her scheduled Lucrezia Borgia with AOS and instead New York heard Montserrat Caballé for the first time. She made history that evening and returned to AOS for La StranieraRoberto Devereux and Maria Stuarda opposite Shirley VerrettBeverly Sills sang her only Marguerite in Les Huguenots (with Angeles Gulin and Tony Poncet) and her only French La Fille du Régiment during AOS’s final season in 1970. But the most famous AOS concert of all was, of course, Maria Callas’s 1959 Il Pirata. — Christopher Corwin

Massenet: Hérodiade
American Opera Society
Carnegie Hall
10 December 1963

Salomé: Régine Crespin
Hérodiade: Rita Gorr
Jean: Guy Chauvet
Hérode: Robert Massard
Phanuel: Robert Patterson
Vitellius: Allan Cathcart

Conductor: Alain Lombard