Saturday, 17 September 2011

Manon Metropolitan Opera 1936

This is part of a Gala performance to mark the retirement of Spanish soprano Lucretia Bori who had sung more than 600 performances at the Met since 1910. This was her last performance in New York, but she would sing one last Mimi in Baltimore on tour a few days later. The Gala featured Bori in extracts from Traviata and Manon, Rethberg and Pinza in Forza, Flagstad and Melchior in Walkure, and Ponselle and Martinelli Trovatore. Sadly only the very last extract, Act 3 Sc 2 of Manon was broadcast, but the speeches from the stage were also broadcast, so there is about 40 minutes in total. The sound is not bad for the time.

Metropolitan Opera House
March 29, 1936 

Broadcast 10.30-11.15pm on WJZ New York


Manon: Act III, Scene 2

Manon...................Lucrezia Bori
Des Grieux..............Richard Crooks
Count des Grieux........Léon Rothier

Conductor...............Louis Hasselmans

Account of Farewell Gala of Lucrezia Bori; presentations March 29, 1936 in The Sun, unsigned.

At the end of the program there was prolonged and enthusiastic cheering for Miss Bori and then the curtain was raised with the entire board of directors of the opera association and the company gathered on the stage. Then the ceremony began.

Among those who extolled Miss Bori's contribution to the Metropolitan Opera in addresses were Frederic Potts Moore, representing the board of directors; Edward Johnson for the company; Mrs. Vincent Astor, who spoke for the board and for friends, and Mrs. August Belmont for the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

A tribute to Miss Bori printed on the program and signed by Paul D. Cravath, president of the board, and Edward Ziegler, secretary, reviewed the singer's long association with the company and spoke of the personal sacrifices she has made and the labor she has given to the opera to help it through its financial reverses and the last few years. It concluded with the following paragraph:

"The board of directors hail with joy Miss. Bori's announcement that, while she is retiring as an artist, she will retain her membership on the board of directors, and continue her active interest in the causes of opera at the Metropolitan. Were it not for the continued association with Miss Bori that is thus vouchsafed to them, the directors feel that much of the pleasure and satisfaction from their association with the Metropolitan would be lost."

The program also contained the following tribute written by Edward Johnson, who is the general manager of the company:

"To Lucrezia Bori - as a friend, most understanding: as a woman, adorable; as a colleague, ideal; as an artist, irreplaceable."

Among the gifts presented to her were a diamond brooch that had been made in 1866 for the Empress Eugénie of France, the gift of her colleagues on the board and a large group of friends. The presentation was made by Mrs. Astor.

There was also a visiting card in gold, the gift of the assistant directors; a silver coffee urn from the chorus; a vase filled with roses, from the stage hands; many gifts from the singers and orchestra, and two parchments, one signed by the board and another signed by the administrative staff.

Earlier in the evening Miss Bori had distributed many gifts to singers and others in the company.

With her arms full of flowers, and evidently deeply touched by the tributes, Miss Bori said that "my heart is in such a turmoil that I do not know how to express the varied emotions I am feeling." when she made her reply.

She then thanked the board, the company and her friends for the ceremony and the gifts.

"I am supremely happy, supremely grateful, and yet supremely sad. Au revoir." she said in conclusion.

It was emphasized that Miss Bori will continue her active work on the board of directors, of which she remains a member.

"I know how to keep myself busy," she declared in an interview. "After all, I am 48 years old. I have been in the theater long enough. Now I shall travel, perhaps sing a little in concert and on the radio. I have also begun to model in clay."

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