Popular, Broadway and Other Crossover Recordings by Winners and Finalists of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air
Pinta, Emil R., ARSC Journal
The winners and finalists of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air represented a unique group of singers. With only a few exceptions, they were American-born and raised, with English as their native language. All had received classical vocal training and aspired to sing opera. Only those contestants with the best voices and qualifications for opera were chosen to be heard over the air.
All winners and finalists had unavoidably been exposed to American popular music via radio, commercial recordings, Broadway shows and movie musicals. All would have heard, and likely been influenced by, famous entertainers of their times--such as Al Jolson, Rudy Vallee, Frank Munn, Jessica Dragonette, Bing Crosby, Ruth Etting, Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald. Some undoubtedly also were exposed to jazz vocalists such as Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Therefore, crossover recordings by Auditions winners and finalists represent an opportunity to hear classically trained singers with fine voices, entrenched in the culture of popular American music, perform non-operatic and popular melodies.
The Auditions of the Air seem to have been largely ignored by music historians. To the author's knowledge, a detailed history of the Auditions and a list of its winners and finalists have not appeared in print. (1) The list of winners and finalists in the Appendix was compiled primarily from a year-by-year search of the The New York Times. Other sources, such as Opera News and books by Irving Kolodin and Thomas DeLong, (2) provided names of finalists and other contestants not mentioned in the Times.
Met Auditions of the Air
The Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air were a series of annual radio programs broadcast over network radio between 1935 and 1958. Their purpose was to audition singers for the New York Metropolitan Opera Company. Anyone--amateur or professional--could enter the Auditions of the Air; and between 700 to 900 aspiring singers did so every year. Contestants sang operatic, semi-classical and popular standards in thirty-minute programs that originated in New York City. They were aired over network radio to a national audience over a period of thirteen to twenty-six weeks. Winners of the individual programs were brought back to New York for the semi-finals and finals, broadcast in March or April of every year. (3)
In an announcement describing the upcoming Auditions of the Air, The New York Times enthusiastically explained that they would feature music "that everybody loves, favorite gems from favorite operas. In other words, the hit tunes of opera, brought down to the level of Mr. Average John Q. Public, sung by finely trained singers who are at the threshold of stardom." (4)
The event captured the interest of the American public, who gathered around their radios in the 1930s and '40s with the hope that a new Caruso or Melba might be discovered. In this respect, a comparison can be made to today's America's Got Talent, American Idol and other "live" talent competitions. Some of the winners and finalists--such as Eleanor Steber, Rise Stevens, Leonard Warren, Regina Resnik, Patrice Munsel, Robert Merrill, Martina Arroyo and Grace Bumbry--became headliners at the Met. Some went on to careers with other opera companies, as comprimarios and lesser-known Met performers, as performers in Broadway musicals (including a Tony Award nominee), recording artists of popular music, and even motion picture actors and actresses.
The first broadcast of the Auditions of the Air was heard on 22 December 1935 over New York station WEAF, an NBC affiliate. The winners, Anna Kaskas, mezzo-soprano, and Arthur Carron, tenor, were announced on 29 March 1936. (5) Both went on to successful careers with the Met, each singing for eleven seasons. (6) In 1938, station WJZ began airing the Auditions. In 1945, when WJZ and the Blue Network of NBC became the American Broadcasting Company, the program was heard over the ABC network. In 1952, broadcasts were begun over ABC television. (7)
Prizes & Other Benefits
During the first fourteen years of the Auditions of the Air, the first prize--given to two to four contestants--consisted of a $1000 cash award, a silver plaque, and most coveted of all--a contract with the Metropolitan Opera Company! The awards were presented each spring by Met managers Edward Johnson and Rudolf Bing. Other finalists generally received cash awards and scholarships to further their careers. After 1950 winners did not automatically receive a Met contract.
All contestants chosen to be heard on the air received $100 each time they performed. In addition to contracts and prizes, the Auditions of the Air provided national exposure that aided the careers of a large number of singers. Recognition gained through the Auditions was especially valuable during the 1930s and '40s, when events in Europe prevented many classical singers from obtaining experience and exposure abroad. (8)
Sponsoring Agencies & Broadcast Networks
The Auditions of the Air required the combined efforts of a great number of people and organizations. Broadcast networks provided their studios, staff and orchestras. The Metropolitan Opera Company provided the judges, contracts with its company, and the backing of its prestigious organization. A sponsor paid for air time, cash awards and other expenses. The Sherwin-Williams Company, manufacturer of paints and varnishes, sponsored the program from its beginning through 1945. In 1948, after a lapse of two years, the Auditions returned with a new sponsor--the Farnsworth Television & Radio Corporation, makers of Capehart radios and phonographs. (9) After 1950 there was no permanent sponsor, and prizes were provided by ABC. (10)
Wilfrid Pelletier & the Auditions
The success of the Auditions of the Air can largely be credited to Wilfrid Pelletier (1896-1982), conductor with the Metropolitan Opera Company (Figure 2). The task of screening the large number of contestants and deciding who would be heard over the air belonged to Maestro Pelletier.
Once singers were selected to be heard, they received two weeks of intensive coaching from "Pelly" and his staff in diction, vocal training, stage technique and dress. The judges were all members of the Met and, in addition to Pelletier, included managers Edward Johnson and Rudolf Bing, assistant managers Earle Lewis, Edward Zeigler and John Gutman, conductors Frank St. Leger, Kurt Adler, Fritz Reiner and Fausto Cleva; and various members of the Met board of directors, administrative staff and performing artists. (11)
The last Auditions of the Air were heard on 30 March 1958. The Auditions were criticized for being overly centralized in New York City. It became a financial hardship for contestants to travel to New York City for their initial auditions, and then return there for the semi-finals and finals. (12)
Also, by 1958 the Auditions of the National Council of the Metropolitan Opera Association, with a different intent and sponsorship, were four years old and had decreased the need for the Auditions of the Air.
National Council Auditions
The National Council of the Metropolitan Opera Association was founded in 1952 by Eleanor Belmont (Mrs. August Belmont) as a nationwide group of music-lovers whose annual dues would help cover the regular deficits of the Met and sponsor new programs. In 1954, at the suggestion of Met manager Rudolf Bing, the National Council began to conduct its own auditions.
The National Council Auditions were intended to reach singers from more diverse geographic locations than the Auditions of the Air and had an emphasis on younger and less experienced talent. National Council contestants had to be between seventeen and thirty-one years old and endorsed by an accredited teacher or music society. The potential of a singer was emphasized more than experience. (13) Ann Lingg, contributing editor to Opera News, made the argument that the National Council Auditions "replaced" the Auditions of the Air with a completely different concept and aim.14 The National Council Auditions are still held today.
Between 1954 and 1958, the National Council Auditions and the Auditions of the Air were held concurrently. Winners of the regional National Council Auditions were brought to New York City for the National Council finals, where they also took part in the Auditions of the Air. At first only cash awards and scholarships were offered, but in 1959 the National Council announced that it would follow the policy begun by the Auditions of the Air and offer a contract with the Met as its top prize. After 1959 a contract with the Met was awarded at the discretion of the Met's management. (15)
Discussion on Crossover Recordings
Crossover recordings by operatic artists, i.e., opera singers who sing against type or training to record non-operatic works, are not a new phenomenon. Enrico Caruso's stirring rendition of George M. Cohan's "Over There" (Delamarre-Cohan), recorded in 1918 on Victor 87294, was a popular favorite during the First World War. Soprano Alma Gluck's 1914 recording of "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" (Bland), on Victor 74420, also sold very well, although the sometimes-heard claim that it was a million-seller is inaccurate. (16) Tenor John McCormack also recorded many ballads and Irish melodies in the acoustic era. One of his most popular records was "I Hear You Calling Me" (Harford-Marshall), recorded in 1910 on Victor 64120. (17)
Some early opera stars successfully crossed-over into the world of operettas--a genre that comes closest to operatic style and technique. Soprano Fritzi Scheff, who sang leading roles with the Met from 1900 to 1903, was in the original 1905 Broadway production of Mlle. Modiste (Blossom-Herbert), where she introduced one of Victor Herbert's great classics, "Kiss Me Again." Evelyn Herbert (no relation to Victor) had performed principal soprano roles with the Chicago Opera Company before becoming a sensation in the 1928 original cast of Sigmund Romberg's The New Moon (Hammerstein II-Romberg), introducing such evergreens as "Lover Come Back to Me", "One Kiss" and "Wanting You." (18)
Music critic Richard Dyer points out that before electrical voice amplification, singers in vaudeville had many of the same vocal characteristics as singers in opera.19 Stars of vaudeville, such as Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Sophie Tucker, and Eva Tanguay, all possessed voices of considerable magnitude that could be projected to the rears of crowded theaters.
After the advent of amplification, singers did not have to worry about projection of their voices and could focus on other aspects of singing, such as phrasing and nuances of style that create a more intimate form of vocal expression. It is these vocal nuances that make the transition difficult from a classically trained voice to that of a popular or jazz singer. (20) The microphone and the electrical-recording process led to a more casual style of singing and the development of "crooners," such as Gene Austin, Russ Columbo and Rudy Vallee.
Many American-born opera singers successfully crossed-over to record non-operatic works. Some of the better-known artists include Kathleen Battle, Mimi Benzell, Richard Crooks, Eileen Farrell, Renee Fleming, Thomas Hampson, Marilyn Horne, Dorothy Kirsten, James Melton, Robert Merrill, Anna Moffo, Grace Moore, Patrice Munsel, Jan Peerce, Roberta Peters, Samuel Ramey, Rise Stevens, Gladys Swarthout, Lawrence Tibbett, Georgio Tozzi, Claramae Turner, Helen Traubel, Frederica von Stade, Leonard Warren and Robert Weede--to name a few. (21) Soprano Eileen Farrell's I've Got a Right to Sing the Blues! (Col. LP: CL-1465 orch. cond. Luther Henderson), released in late 1960 with modern jazz arrangements, (22) was a breakthrough album that showed opera singers could hold their own with jazz and blues singers of the day.
Tenor Mario Lanza combined operatic and popular singing into a highly successful movie and recording career in the 1940s and '50s--and continues to have avid fans today. However, his reputation was not built on the opera stage. He performed only one complete opera before a live audience--Puccini's Madama Butterfly in New Orleans in 1948. (23) Likewise, the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, who was a Grammy Award nominee in 1999 for Best New Artist, has performed only a few complete operas on stage. (24) Lanza and Bocelli illustrate the difficulty of pigeon-holing singers into one category. It can be argued that good singing is sometimes just good singing, regardless of type. (25)
Some popular singers received classical voice training with early intentions of operatic careers. For example, Tito Guizar, the Mexican singer popular on both sides of the border in the 1940s and '50s, possessed a lyric tenor voice and had studied in Milan. He was a member of the Chicago Opera Company before pursuing a non-classical career. (26) Similarly, pop singer Vaughn Monroe, who was gifted with a rich, baritone voice, studied opera at the Carnegie Tech School of Music and voice at the New England Conservatory of Music. (27)
In some cases, it seems that classical voice lessons could be detrimental to a popular singer's career. Torch-singer Libby Holman took operatic lessons in the 1930s, which, by some accounts, ruined her singing. According to some observers, Holman's voice lost its earthy, sensuous quality; and the lessons, taken to increase her vocal range, caused her voice to become overly cautious and pretentious. (28)
There are examples of singers crossing-over from the other side, i.e., from popular to opera, but often with less-than-ideal results. In 1984, pop star Linda Rondstadt, who possesses a voice of considerable range and flexibility, was one of three sopranos who shared the role of Mimi in a one-time New York production of Puccini's La Boheme. She and the production received poor reviews from the critics. (29) Similarly, pop vocalist Michael Bolton's collection of operatic arias (My Secret Passion: Sony CD: 63077), released in 1998, with a duet from La Boheme with soprano Renee Fleming, also prompted bad reviews from classical music critics. (30) Of course, many popular albums by opera singers would receive equally poor reviews from aficionados of popular music.
Apparently, no singer has yet crossed-over from opera to rap, the popular musical idiom of today; nor have rap singers attempted leaps into the world of opera. But neither of these unlikely transitions are outside the realm of possibilities.
Winners & Finalists as Stars of the Silver Screen
Several Auditions of the Air winners and finalists had brief careers in motion pictures, and are on soundtrack and film-cast recordings. (31) Many recordings are now available on CDs and MP3 downloads; and many films are now available on DVD.
Mezzo-soprano Rise Stevens (1936 finalist) starred opposite Nelson Eddy in the 1941 musical The Chocolate Soldier (MGM) (Col 78-rpm: M-482 orch. cond. Robert Armbruster), and with Bing Crosby in Going My Way (Paramount, 1944) (Stevens not on Decca film-cast album). Prior to entering the Auditions, tenor Felix Knight (1938 finalist) had roles in two Laurel and Hardy MGM films: Babes in Toyland (1934) (soundtrack issued in 1970s on Mark 56 LP: 577 orch. cond. Nathaniel Shilkret) and Bohemian Girl (1936) (no soundtrack available). Soprano Patrice Munsel (1943 winner) had the title role in Melba (United Art ists, 1953) (10-in. RCA LP: LM-7012 orch. cond. Muir Mathieson and Warwick Braithwaite). Baritone Robert Merrill (1945 winner) had a major role in the musical comedy Aaron Slick from Punkin' Crick (Paramount, 1952) (10-in RCA LP: LPM-3006 orch. cond. Muir Mathieson and Warwick Braithwaite). Baritone Robert McFerrin32 (1953 winner) is heard but not seen in Porgy and Bess (Columbia, 1959) (Col LP: OL-5410 orch. cond. Andre Previn). He provided the singing voice for actor Sidney Poitier. (33)
Several Auditions of the Air winners and finalists had leading roles in the original casts of Broadway musicals. As with film soundtracks, many original-cast recordings have been re-issued on CDs and some are available as MP3 downloads.
Soprano Annamary Dickey (1939 winner) originated the role of Marjorie in the 1947 Hammerstein II-Rodgers musical Allegro (RCA 78-rpm: K-11 orch. cond. Robert Russell Bennett; recorded 19 October 1947), (34) introducing "A Fellow Needs a Girl" (w. William Ching) and "Come Home."
Mezzo-soprano Mona Paulee (1941 winner) created the role of Marie, the sister of Tony (performed by baritone Robert Weede), in the 1956 Frank Loesser musical The Most Happy Fella (Col LP: 03L-240 orch. cond. Herbert Greene; recorded 13,14, 20 May 1956). (35) She introduced "The Letter Theme" (w. Weede), "Don't Like This Dance" (w. Susan Johnson) and "She Gonna Come Home With Me" (w. Johnson and Weede).
Bass-baritone Lansing Hatfield, another 1941 winner, had a leading role as Reverend Davidson in the short-lived 1944 Dietz-Duke musical Sadie Thompson (no cast recording). (36)
Soprano Dorothy Sarnoff (1941 finalist) played Lady Thiang in the 1951 original cast of The King and I (Hammerstein II-Rodgers) (Decca LP: DL-9008 orch. cond. Robert Russell Bennett; recorded 16, 17 April 1951), (37) when she introduced "Something Wonderful." She also appeared with 1944 finalist, bass-baritone Kenneth Schon, in the 1952 Broadway adaptation of Verdi's opera reset in the Civil War to lyrics by Charles Friedman, My Darlin' A'ida (no cast recording).
Mezzo-soprano Christine Johnson (1943 winner) introduced the well-known songs "June is Bustin' Out All Over" (w. Jean Darling) and "You'll Never Walk Alone" in the 1945 Hammerstein II-Rodgers musical Carousel (Decca 78-rpm-400 orch. cond. Joseph Littau; recorded 9, 11, 16, 21 May 1945). (38)
Prior to winning the 1948 Auditions, soprano Marilyn Cotlow created the leading role of Lucy in The Telephone, a 1947 comic-opera by Gian-Carlo Menotti presented on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre (Col LP: ML-4175 w. Frank Rogier, orch. cond. Emanuel Balaban; released 1949). (39)
Forty-four years after winning the 1944 Auditions, mezzo-soprano Regina Resnik received critics' acclaim and a Tony Award nomination for her role as Fraulein Schneider in the 1987-1988 Broadway revival of Cabaret (Kander-Ebb) (no cast recording). (40)
Winners/Finalists on Other Non-operatic Recordings
As expected, winners and finalists of the Auditions of the Air made numerous classical and operatic recordings. (41) Many crossed-over to make recordings of Broadway and popular songs. The following list is representative and is not intended to be comprehensive. Original formats of recordings are given. (42) Recording dates (when known) or release dates are provided. (43) Many recordings have been re-issued on CDs, and some performances are available as MP3 downloads.
1930s winners and finalists:
A winner of the first Auditions of the Air in 1936, Connecticut-born mezzo-soprano Anna Kaskas, of Lithuanian descent, recorded two 78s of Lithuanian folksongs (Figure 1). They are included here as non-operatic items of interest: Columbia 78-rpm: 16322-F: "Mano Roze" (Kacanauskas-Kirsos)/"Kur Bakuze Samanota" (Simkus); and Columbia 78-rpm: 16323-F: "Dukruzele" (Sarpalius-Binkio)/"Mergu Bedos" (Vanagaitis). Both discs were recorded in the U.S. on 18 October 1940 with orchestra conducted by Vinco Gailaus. (44)
Mezzo-soprano Rise Stevens (1936 finalist), before entering the Auditions of the Air, was an unidentified vocalist on Gems from Romberg Operettas (RCA 78-rpm: C-24 orch. cond. Nathaniel Shilkret; recorded April-May 1935) (45) singing "My Springtime Thou Art" (Donnelly-Schubert-Romberg) from Blossom Time and "Mother" (Donnelly-Romberg) from My Maryland.
Stevens sang "Sweetest Story Ever Told" (Stults) and "Love Has Wings" (Cushing-Heath-Kalman) from Sari (V-Disc 78-rpm: 413A orch. cond. Howard Barlow; recorded 15 January 1945). (46)
On Rise Stevens in Songs of Jerome Kern (Col 78-rpm: M-568 orch. cond. Sylvan Schulman; recorded 6-15 February 1945)47 she performed standards such as "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (Harbach-Kern) from Roberta, "They Didn't Believe Me" (Rourke-Kern) from The Girl from Utah, and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man (Hammerstein II-Kern) from Show Boat.
Among other selections, she recorded "In the Still of the Night" from Rosalie, "Night and Day" from Gay Divorce and "Begin the Beguine" from Jubilee on Cole Porter Songs (Columbia M-630 orch. cond. Sylvan Schulman; recorded 3, 16 April 1946).
On Victor Herbert Favorites, she sang selections including "I'm Falling in Love with Someone" (Young-Herbert) and "'Neath the Southern Moon" (Young-Herbert) from Naughty Marietta, "Toyland" (MacDonough-Herbert)" from Babes in Toyland, and "Because You're You" (Blossom-Herbert) from The Red Mill (10-in. RCA LP:LM-79 orch. cond. Frank Black; recorded 19-26 May 1950).
With Robert Merrill (1945 winner), Stevens was featured on Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (Heyward-I. Gershwin-G. Gershwin) (RCA LP: LM-1124 orch. cond. Robert Russell Bennett; recorded 12-13 September 1950). Also see listing for Robert Merrill (below).
Baritone Thomas L. Thomas (1937 winner), before entering the Auditions, was a soloist with 1936 finalist Rise Stevens on Gems from Romberg Operettas (RCA 78-rpm: C-24 orch. cond. Nathaniel Shilkret; recorded April-May 1935),48 with songs that included "The Desert Song" from The Desert Song (Hammerstein II-Harbach-Romberg); and "Golden Days" and "Deep in My Heart, Dear " from The Student Prince (Donnelly-Romberg).
Thomas sang with the Victor Salon Group, which included tenor Jan Peerce and soprano Anne Jamison, on Victor Herbert Melodies (RCA 78-rpm: C-33 orch. cond. Nathaniel Shilkret; recorded 29 January 1939), with selections that included (w. Jamison) "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" (Young-Herbert) from Naughty Marietta; "Gypsy Love Song" (Smith-Herbert) from The Fortune Teller; and (w. Jamison) "The Isle of Our Dreams" (Blossom-Herbert) from The Red Mill.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
He recorded two melodies from the 1944 Cole Porter show Seven Lively Arts, "Is It the Girl? (Or Is It the Gown?)" and "Frahngee-Pahnee" (RCA 78-rpm: 10-1157 orch. cond. Maximilian Pilzer; recorded 4 December 1944).
Thomas sang several selections from Carousel (Hammerstein II-Rodgers) with soprano Nan Merriman: "June is Bustin' Out All Over" and "If I Loved You" (RCA 78-rpm: 10-1174 orch. cond. Al Goodman; recorded 18 June 1945); and soloed on "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "What's the Use of Wondrin'?" (RCA 78-rpm 10-1175 orch. cond. Al Goodman; recorded 18 June 1945).
In the 1960s, Thomas performed Favourite Ballads (London LP: LL-1522 w. Ivor Newton, Jacob Hanneman, pianos; recorded 1961), with selections that included "Smilin' Through" (Penn), "If I Could Tell You" (Firestone) and "In the Gloaming" (Harrison).
Tenor John Carter (1938 winner) (Figure 2) recorded a 78-rpm album of Sentimental Songs (Columbia 78-rpm: M-522 w. instrumental accompaniment [no conductor listed]; recorded 1942). (49) He sang well-known tunes such as "Roses of Picardy" (Weatherly-Wood), "Trees" (Kilmer-Rasbach), "Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming" (Foster) and "Love Sends a Little Gift of Roses" (Cooke-Openshaw). He also recorded several singles for Columbia: "Because" (Teschemacher-d'Hardelot)/"Beautiful Dreamer" (Foster-arr. Howard) (Col 78-rpm:4242M, James Quillian, piano; released 1940); and "Kathleen Mavourneen" (Crouch)/Macushla (Rowe-MacMurrough) (Col 78-rpm:4274-M, James Quillian, piano; released 1941). (50)
Baritone Leonard Warren (1938 winner) (Figure 2) recorded "Because" (Teschemacher-d' Hardelot) and "None But the Lonely Heart" (Westbrook-Tschaikovsky) (RCA 78-rpm: 10-1406, Willard Sektberg, piano; recorded 3 September 1947); and "On the Road to Mandalay" (Kipling-Speaks) and "Until" (Teschemacher-Sanderson) (RCA 78-rpm 10-1447, Willard Sektberg, piano; recorded 29 November 1947). (51)
On the 78-rpm album Sea Shanties, he sang "A Rovin'" (arr. Tom Scott), "Blow the Man Down" (arr. Tom Scott), "The Drummer and the Cook" (arr. Tom Scott), "The Drunken Sailor" (arr. Tom Scott), "Low Lands" (arr. Tom Scott), "Rio Grande" (arr. Tom Scott) and "Shenandoah" (arr. Tom Scott) (RCA 78-rpm: DM 1186 orch. cond. Morris Levine; recorded 9 July 1947).
Warren performed standards such as "America the Beautiful" (Bates-Ward), "Battle Hymn of the Republic" (Howe-Steffe), "Home on the Range" (Guinon), "A Little Bit of Heaven" (Brennan-Ball), "Mother Machree" (Young-Ball-Olcott), "On the Road to Mandalay" (Kipling-Speaks), and "Ol' Man River" (Hammerstein II-Kern) from Show Boat on Songs for Everyone (10-in. RCA LP: LM-94 orch. cond. Frank Black; recorded 26, 28 September 1950).
He recorded poems of Rudyard Kipling set to music on Songs of Rudyard Kipling that included "Boots" (Kipling-McCall), "Danny Deever" (Kipling-Damrosch), "Gunga Din" (Kipling-Spross), "Recessional" (Kipling-DeKoven), and "Rolling Down to Rio" (Kipling-German) (10-in. RCA LP: LM-147 orch. cond. Frank Black; recorded 2, 5 October 1951).
On the 1958 album On Tour in Russia, he performed non-classical selections including "Colorado Trail" (arr. Tom Scott), "Good Fellows be Merry" (Peasant-Bach), and "Tell Me, O Blue, Blue Sky (Flaster-Giannini) (RCA LP: LM-2266 w. Willard Sektberg, piano; recorded May 1958).
Tenor Felix Knight (1938 finalist) on Favorite Songs From Famous Musicals, Vol. 1 (RCA 78-rpm: P-133 with orch. [no cond. listed]; released 1942)52 sang selections from Broadway shows including "Serenade" (Donnelly-Romberg) from The Student Prince, "One Alone" (Hammerstein II-Harbach-Romberg) from The Desert Song, and, with soprano Dorothy Kirsten, "Wanting You" (Hammerstein II-Romberg) from The New Moon.
Knight sang Victor Herbert selections from Mlle. Modiste (Blossom-Herbert) and Naughty Marietta (Young-Herbert) with soprano Doretta Morrow (10-in. RCA LP: LPM3153 orch. cond. Jay Blackton; released 1953), (53) and appeared on a studio-cast recording with Kitty Carlisle and Wilbur Evans of Romberg's The Desert Song (Hammerstein II-Harbach-Romberg) (78-rpm Decca-370 orch. cond. Isaac van Grove; recorded 13, 14 March 1945 and 21 May 1945). (54)
With soprano Mimi Benzell, Knight was heard on selections from Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate and Can-Can on Design LP: 1009 (orch. cond. Warren Vincent; released 1960). (55)
1940s winners and finalists:
Soprano Eleanor Steber (1940 winner) teamed with mezzo-soprano Margaret Harshaw (1942 winner) to record two traditional hymns: "Abide With Me" (Lyte-Monk) and "Whispering Hope" (Winner) (RCA 78-rpm: 10-1463 orch. cond. Russ Case; released 1949). (56)
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
Steber recorded Gershwin's "Summertime" (Heyward-G. Gershwin) from Porgy and Bess and Hoagy Carmichael's "Star Dust" (Parish-Carmichael) (RCA 78-rpm: 11-9186 orch. cond. Jay Blackton; released 1946). (57)
She was heard on a studio production of Romberg's The New Moon (Hammerstein II-Romberg) with Nelson Eddy (10-in. Columbia LP: ML-2164 orch. cond. Leon Arnaud; released December 1950) (58) and was a soloist on excerpts from Oklahoma! (Hammerstein II-Rodgers) with opera stars James Melton, tenor, and John Charles Thomas, baritone (RCA 78-rpm: M-988 orch. cond. Al Goodman; released 1945). (59)
In 1951 Steber recorded Songs of Victor Herbert (10-in. Col LP ML 2192 orch. cond. Percy Faith; recorded 14, 16 March 1951) (60) that included "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life," "I'm Falling in Love with Someone" and "Italian Street Song" from Naughty Marietta (Young-Herbert); and "Kiss Me Again" from Mlle. Modiste (Blossom-Herbert).
On her private label (St/and), she recorded Love's Old Sweet Songs (St/and-413 w. Barron Smith and Edwin Biltcliffe, organists; Al Vann, piano; released 1962), (61) performing "At Dawning" (Eberhart-Cadman), "Danny Boy" (Weatherly), "Smilin' Through" (Penn) and "I Love You" (Porter) from Mexican Hayride.
Mezzo-soprano Mona Paulee (1941 winner) recorded three LPs on the Remington label in 1952, (62) singing Broadway and popular melodies:
Mona Paulee Sings Romberg and Gershwin (Remington LP: 199-119 orch. cond. Heinz Sandauer) with selections that included "One Kiss" (Hammerstein II-Romberg) from The New Moon and "Somebody Loves Me" (MacDonald-DeSylva-Gershwin) from George White's Scandals;
Mona Paulee Sings Gershwin and Friml (Remington LP: 199-120 orch. cond. Heinz Sandauer) singing "The Man I Love" (I. Gershwin-G. Gershwin) from Lady, Be Good! and "Indian Love Call" (Harbach-Hammerstein II-Friml) from Rose Marie; and
Mona Paulee Sings Cole Porter and Gershwin (Remington LP: 199-122 orch. cond. Heinz Sandauer) singing "Night and Day" (Porter) from Gay Divorce, "Love for Sale" (Porter) from The New Yorkers, and "Oh, Lady Be Good!" (I. Gershwin-G. Gershwin) from Lady Be Good!
Soprano Francis Greer (1942 winner) was a featured soloist on many RCA studio-cast Broadway and operetta albums of the late 1940s and '50s.
Greer sang with tenor Jimmy Carroll and bass-baritone Earl Wrightson on Victor Herbert's Sweethearts (Smith-Herbert) (RCA 78-rpm: K-6 [P-174] orch. cond. Al Goodman; released 1947); (63) and again with Carroll and Wrightson on Romberg's The Desert Song (Hammerstein II-Harbach-Romberg) (RCA 78-rpm:K-12 orch. cond. Al Goodman; released 1948). (64)
She appeared with Wrightson, tenor Donald Dame, and Mary Martha Briney on a studio-cast recording of Romberg's The Student Prince (Donnelly-Romberg) (RCA 78rpm: K-8 [P-180] cond. Al Goodman; released 1947), (65) and was on a recording of Romberg's The New Moon (Hammerstein II-Romberg) with Wrightson (RCA 78-rpm: K-16 orch. cond. Al Goodman; released 1948). (66)
Greer was heard again with Wrightson on a recording of Friml's The Vagabond King (Hooker-Friml) (RCA 78-rpm: K-17; 45-rpm: WK-17 orch. cond. Al Goodman; released late 1948 or January 1949). (67)
She recorded solos and duets with Jimmy Carroll on Favorite Songs From Favorite Musicals, Vol. II (RCA 78-rpm: P-177 orch. cond. Dudley King; released 1947). (68) Duets included "Someone to Watch Over Me" (I. Gershwin-G. Gershwin) from Oh, Kay!, "Yours Is My Heart Alone" (Smith-Lehar) from The Land of Smiles, and "I'll Follow My Secret Heart" (Coward) from Conversation Piece. She soloed on Noel Coward's "Zigeuner" from Bitter Sweet.
Soprano Patrice Munsel (1943 winner) (Figure 3) (69) recorded Rodgers and Hart Song Book (10-in. RCA LP: LPM-4; orch. cond. Norman Leyden; recorded 1951), (70) in which she teamed with pop singer Vaughn Monroe for two Hart-Rodgers selections: "Falling in Love with Love" from The Boys from Syracuse, and "With a Song in My Heart" from Spring is Here. She soloed on "My Funny Valentine" and "Where or When" from Babes in Arms; and "My Romance" from Jumbo.
Munsel sang popular Latin favorites on A Patrice Munsel Program (RCA 78-rpm: M-1130 orch. cond. Al Goodman; released 1947), (71) with selections that included "Andalucia" (Lecuona), "Estrellita" (Ponce),"Granada" (Lara), and "Il Bacio" (Aldighil-Arditi); and was heard in a selection of Strauss Waltzes (10 in. RCA LP: LM-139 orch. cond. Arthur Fiedler; released 1952), (72) singing "Artists' Life," "Emperor Waltz," "Wine, Women and Song," and "Tales from the Vienna Woods" (Paul-Strauss, Jr.-Burger).
[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]
According to Joel Whitburn, Munsel's 1951 single "Bela Bimba" (Harrington-De Mejo) was one of two crossover, charted singles by an Audition winner/finalist. (73) (Robert Merrill has the other charted single.) It was coupled with "Look Me Over Once" (DietzStrauss, Jr.) from Die Fledermaus and released on RCA 78-rpm:20-4255; 45-rpm:474255 (orch. cond. Norman Leyden; recorded 1951). (74)
Munsel sang duets with pop singer Vic Damone on the NBC telecast recording of "Stingiest Man in Town" (Torre-Spielman) (Columbia LP: CL-950 orch. cond. Tutti Camarata; telecast 23 December 1956), (75) and recorded excerpts from The Merry Widow (Brown-Lehar) (RCA LP: LSO-1094; orch. cond. Franz Allers; released September 1964) (76) with Bob Wright, Sig Arno and others.
In the early 1960s, she recorded Unpredictable Patrice Munsel (Phillips LP: 200-020 orch. cond. Phil Moore; released 1962), (77) performing such diverse numbers as "Serenade in Blue "(Gordon-Warren), "Bewitched" (Hart-Rodgers) from Pal Joey, "My Man's Gone Now" (Heyward-G. Gershwin) from Porgy and Bess and "Come On-a My House" (Bagdasarian-Saroyan). Also see listing for Robert Merrill (below).
Baritone John Baker (1943 finalist) recorded "Gypsy Love Song" (Smith-Herbert) from The Fortune Teller on a Pilotone 78-rpm album of Victor Herbert Melodies, which also featured soprano Elaine Malbin and tenor Robert Marshall (Pilotone 78-rpm: 202 orch. cond. Charles Previn; released September or October 1947). (78) Prior to competing in the finals, Baker had a leading role opposite Gertrude Lawrence for several months in the 1943 Broadway revival of Kurt Weill's Lady in the Dark (I. Gershwin-Weill) (no cast recording). (79)
Mezzo-soprano and soprano Regina Resnik (1944 winner) was heard with 1945 winner Robert Merrill on a recording of Kismet (Wright-Forest-Borodin) (London LP: 55001 cond. Mantovani; recorded 1963), (80) and is on the 1991 production of Anastasia: the Musical (Forrest-Wright) (Original Cast Records CD: OC-9837 piano arrangement by Albin Knopka; recorded 19, 21-22 November 1991). (81)
Baritone Hugh Thompson (1944 winner) and contralto Lucille Cummings (1944 finalist) were featured on a Pilotone 78-rpm album of Gilbert and Sullivan Favorites with tenor Nino Ventura (Pilotone 78-rpm: 201 orch. cond. Charles Previn; released September or October 1947). (82) Thompson performed "I Am the Captain of the Clouds" and "Fair Moon to Thee I Sing" from H.M.S. Pinafore; and "A Policeman's Lot" and "Model Major General" from Pirates of Penzance. Cummings performed "We Sail the Ocean Blue" and "Poor Little Buttercup" from H.M.S. Pinafore.
Tenor Thomas Hayward (1945 winner) recorded "Sylvia" (Scollard-Speaks) and "Pale Moon" (Glick-Logan) (RCA 78-rpm: 10-1426; Frank LaForge, piano; released 1949). (83)
Hayward sang traditional Scottish numbers such as "Comin' Thro' the Rye" (Burnstrad.) and "Auld Lang Syne" (Burns-trad.) on Songs for Tenor and Harpsichord (Cambridge LP: CR-711; Melville Smith, harpsichord; recorded 1962). (84)
He was featured on selections from Romberg's The New Moon (Hammerstein IIRomberg) with Jane Wilson and Lee Sweetland (10-in. Decca LP: 5472 orch. cond. Victor Young; recorded 18 February 1953) (85) and on music by Johann Strauss, Jr., with words by Ruth and Tom Martin on A Night in Venice with Enzo Stuarti and a cast that also included 1944 Auditions finalist Kenneth Schon (Everest LP SDBR-3028 orch. cond. Thomas Martin; recorded 1959). (86)
Baritone Robert Merrill (1945 winner), during a recording career that spanned over 50 years, recorded many popular and Broadway melodies that began with Hollywood's Jeanette MacDonald on an 78-rpm album of Sigmund Romberg's Up in Central Park (FieldsRomberg) (RCA 78-rpm: M-991 orch. cond. Robert Russell Bennett; released 1945). (87)
In an honor shared with Munsel, Merrill had a crossover, charted single: "Whiffenpoof Song" (Minnegerode-Pomeroy-Galloway) (orch. cond. Russ Case; released 1947) (88) on RCA Victor 10-1313, backed by "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" (Stokes-Vernor).
Merrill teamed with his first wife, soprano Roberta Peters, for Porter's "So in Love" from Kiss Me Kate and Friml's "Indian Love Call" (Harbach-Hammerstein II-Friml) from Rose Marie (RCA 78-rpm: 10-3786; 45-rpm:49-3786 orch. cond. Charles Sanford; recorded 7 March 1952) (Figure 4). (89)
He recorded highlights from Show Boat (Hammerstein II-Kern) with Dorothy Kirsten (RCA 78-rpm: DM-1341; 45-rpm:WDM-1341 orch. cond. John Scott Trotter; released 1949), (90) and was heard again in a 1956 studio cast of this musical that included 1943 winner Patrice Munsel and 1936 finalist Rise Stevens (RCA LP: LM-2008 orch. cond. Lehman Engel; recorded 13 March 1956). (91)
Merrill was heard again with Patrice Munsel in excerpts from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel (RCA LP: LPM-1048 orch. cond. Lehman Engel; recorded 1955) (92) and--with Stevens--on highlights from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (RCA LP: LM-1124 cond. Robert Russell Bennett; recorded 12-13 September 1950). (93)
Songs You Love (10-in. RCA LP: LM-92 orch. cond. Russ Case; released 1951) (94) was another LP of operetta selections that included "I'm Falling in Love with Someone" and "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life" from Naughty Marietta (Young-Herbert) and "Yours is My Heart Alone" from The Land of Smiles (Smith-Lehar).
Merrill teamed with soprano Vivienne della Chiesa on an Everest LP, Robert Merrill and Vivienne Della Chiesa Sing Porter and Youmans (Everest LP: 9001 orch. cond. Gordon Jenkins; released 1960), (95) with solo renditions of Porter's "Begin the Beguine" from Jubilee and "Cvest Magnifique'" from Can-Can, and duets of "So In Love" (Porter) from Kiss Me Kate, and "Through the Years" (Heyman-Youmans) from the musical of the same name.
With tenor Jan Peerce, Jane Powell and Phil Harris, he was heard on a two-LP album of Lerner-Lowe Broadway songs, An Evening with Lerner-Lowe (RCA LP: LPM 6005 orch. cond. Johnny Green; recorded 19-20 January 1959). (96) Among his solo selections were "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" from My Fair Lady; "They Call the Wind Maria" from Paint Your Wagon; "Gigi" from Gigi: and "There But for You Go I" from Brigadoon.
Soprano Lois Hunt (1949 winner) recorded show tunes and light classics with bass-baritone Earl Wrightson on three Columbia LPs: A Night With Sigmund Romberg (Col LP: CL-1302 orch. cond. Percy Faith; recorded 29-30 December 1958) (97), A Night With Rudolf Friml (Col LP: CL-1630 orch. cond. Frank DeVol; recorded 1959) (98) and A Night With Jerome Kern (Col LP: CL-8181 orch. cond. Percy Faith; recorded 7-10 July 1959). (99)
She soloed on numbers that included "One Kiss" and "Lover Come Back to Me" from The New Moon (Hammerstein II-Romberg), "Gianina Mia" (Harbach-Friml) from The Firefly, and an excellent version of the still-popular "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" (Harbach-Kern) from Roberta. She sang duets with Wrightson including "Serenade" and "Deep in My Heart, Dear" from The Student Prince (Donnelly-Romberg), "Will You Remember" (Young-Romberg) from Maytime; "Indian Love Call" (Harbach-Hammerstein II-Friml) from Rose Marie; and "Make Believe" and "Why Do I Love You" from Show Boat (Hammerstein II-Kern).
Hunt appeared on other Broadway excerpts that included The King and I (Hammerstein II-Rodgers) and Carousel (Hammerstein II-Rodgers) with Harry Snow and others (Epic LP: 3679; released 1960), (100) and Kiss Me Kate (Porter) with Wrightson and Mary Mayo (Col LP: CS-8568; released 1962). (101)
1950s winners and finalists:
Soprano Heide Krall (1953 winner) performed the leading role of Rosalinda, and baritone Clifford Harvout (1942 winner) played the role of Frank, in excerpts from Die Fledermaus (Dietz-Strauss, Jr.), which also included soprano Laurel Hurley, tenors Thomas Haywood and Brian Sullivan, and baritone John Brownlee (Metropolitan Opera Record Club LP:MO 515 orch. cond. Tibor Kozma; recorded 10-13 December 1956). (102)
Baritone Robert McFerrin (1953 winner), in addition to the 1959 film soundtrack of Porgy and Bess, recorded Deep River and Other Classic Negro Spirituals (Riverside LP: 12-812 [also Washington LP: 466] w. Norman Johnson, piano; recorded 5-6 June 1957), (103) with traditional songs that included "Deep River" "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" "Oh, Glory" "Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit" and "Ride on, King Jesus."
Tenor William Lewis (1955 winner), tenor Robert Nagy (1956 winner) and soprano Saramae Endich (1957 winner) were heard with other soloists--including Anna Moffo and Jeanette Scovotti, sopranos, and Rosalind Elias, mezzo-soprano--on a 9-LP Reader's Digest album (pressed by RCA) titled Treasury of Great Operettas (RDS-40; orch. cond. Lehman Engel; recorded 1961-1962). (104)
Lewis was heard on selections from The Merry Widow (Sachs-Mandel-Lehar): "The Problems of a Prince" and "The Love of Long Ago" (w. Moffo); A Night in Venice (Sachs-Mandel-Strauss, Jr.): "One and Only" (w. Scovotti) and "Venetzia"; Naughty Marietta (Young-Herbert): "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp," "I'm Falling in Love with Someone," and "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" (w. Moffo); The Student Prince (Donnelly-Romberg): "Golden Days" (w. William Chapman), "Serenade" (w. Robert Nagy et al.) and "Deep in My Heart, Dear" (w. Scovotti); and The Vagabond King (Hooker-Friml): "Song of the Vagabonds," "Only a Rose" (w. Endich), and "Love Me Tonight" (w. Endich).
In addition to the above titles, other selections by 1956 winner Robert Nagy included Mlle. Modiste (Blossom-Herbert): "Love Me, Love My Dog"; and The Student Prince (Donnelly-Romberg): "Drinking Song" (w. Peter Palmer and Lee Cass).
Other selections by 1957 winner Saramae Endich included Babes in Toyland (MacDonough-Herbert): "Barney O'Flynn"; Blossom Time (Donnelly-Schubert-Romberg): "Let Me Awake" (w. Lewis); and The Vagabond King (Hooker-Friml): "Some Day."
Soprano Martina Arroyo (1958 winner) recorded There's a Meeting Here Tonight (Angel LP: S-36072 acc. choirs of the Harlem School of the Arts and St. James Presbyterian Church directed by Dorothy Maynor; released 1974), (105) a collection of spirituals. These included "There Is a Balm in Gilead" (trad.), "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me" (trad.), "My Lord, What a Morning" (trad.) and "There's a Meeting Here Tonight" (trad.).
[FIGURE 4 OMITTED]
Hawaii-born tenor Charles K. L. Davis (1958 winner) recorded several LPs of Hawaiian and popular songs that included At the Royal Hawaiian (Everest LP 5015 orch. cond. Raoul Poliakin; released 1958), (106) with renditions of "In the Still of the Night" (Porter), "I'm in the Mood for Love" (Fields-McHugh) and "Torna a Surriento" (De Curtis); and Adventures in Paradise (Everest LP: 5106 orch. cond. Hal Mooney; released 1960), (107) with selections that included "The Hawaiian Wedding Song" (Hoffman-Manning-King), "Pagan Love Song" (Freed-Brown), "Now is the Hour" (Kaihan-Scott-Stewart) and "Red Sails in the Sunset" (Kennedy-Williams).
Davis recorded show tunes from the '50s on Front Row Center (Everest LP: 5050 orch. cond. Franz Allers; released 1960), (108) with songs that included "Tonight" (Sondheim-Bernstein) from West Side Story, "On the Street Where You Live" (Lerner-Lowe) from My Fair Lady and "They Call the Wind Maria" (Lerner-Lowe) from Paint Your Wagon.
He sang popular favorites such as "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" (Webster-Fain), and Berlin's "How Deep is the Ocean" on Exciting Voice of Charles K. L. Davis (Colpix LP:449 orch. cond. O. B. Massingill; released 1964). (109)
Davis was also featured on excerpts from The Merry Widow (Puffer-Cavalieri-Lehar) that included soprano Lisa Della Casa, baritone John Reardon, soprano Laurel Hurley and tenor Paul Franke (Col LP: OL-5880 orch. cond. Franz Allers; released 1963). (110)
Mezzo-soprano and soprano Grace Bumbry (1958 winner) had the title role in a 1967 studio-cast recording of Carmen Jones (Hammerstein II-Bizet) (Heliodor LP: HS-25046 orch. cond. Kenneth Alwyn; released 1967) (111)--an adaptation of Bizet's Carmen reset in the 1940s with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Other cast members included Ena Babb, George Webb, Elisabeth Welch and Thomas Baptiste.
Met Auditions Winners & Finalists
The following is a year-by-year list of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air winners and finalists. (112) Finalists were not always identified in sources and this list may be incomplete. The following abbreviations are used: (s) soprano; (t) tenor; (ms) mezzo-soprano; (c) contralto; (br) baritone; and (bs) bass. Numbers in parentheses indicate seasons with the Metropolitan Opera Company, if applicable. (113)
1936 Winners: Anna Kaskas (ms) (11) and Arthur Carron (t) (11) Finalist: Rise Stevens (ms) (23)
1937 Winners: Maxine Stellman (s) (15) and Thomas L. Thomas (br) (1) Finalist: Annamary Dickey (s) (5)
1938 Winners: John Carter (t) (5) and Leonard Warren (br) (22) Finalist: Felix Knight (t) (4)
1939 Winners: Annamary Dickey (s) (5) and Mack Harrell (br) (13) Finalists: Winifred Heidt (ms) (1) and Jean Merrill (s) (1)
1940 Winners: Eleanor Steber (s) (22) and Arthur Kent (114) (bs-br) (3) Finalist: Emery Darcy (br and t) (13), Lydia Summers (c) and Gertrude Gibson (s)
1941 Winners: Mona Paulee (ms) (5), Lansing Hatfield (bs-br) (3) and Mary Van Kirk (c) (2) Finalists Dorothy Sarnoff (s), Marjorie Phelps (s), Christina Carroll (s) (3), John Tyers (br) (1) and Emma Beldan (s)
1942 Winners: Elwood Gary (t) (2), Margaret Harshaw (s, ms) (22), Frances Greer (s) (9) and Clifford Harvout (br) (30) Finalists: Virginia MacWatters (s) (7) and Robert Brink (br) (1)
1943 Winners: Christine Johnson (ms) (2) and Patrice Munsel (s) (16), Finalists: James Pease (bs-bar) (1), John Baker (br) (9), Mary Henderson (s) (2) and Derna dePamphilis (s)
1944 Winners: Regina Resnik (s, ms) (30), Hugh Thompson (br) (8), Morton Bowe (t) (1) and William Hargrave (br) (3) Finalists: Angelo Raffaelli (t), Lucile Cummings (c) and Kenneth Schon (bs-bar) (7)
1945 Winners: Thomas Tibbett Hayward (t) (12) and Robert Merrill (br) (32) Finalists: Pierrette Alarie (s) (3) and Joseph Laderoute (t)
1946 and 1947: No Auditions
1948 Winners: Marilyn Cotlow (s) (1) and Frank Guarrera (br) (28) Finalists: Gertrude Ribla (s) (2) and Anne Bollinger (s) (5)
1949 Winners: Lois Hunt (s) (4) and Dennis Harbour (bs-br) (1) Finalist: Teresa Stich-Randall (s) (4)
1950: No Auditions
Beginning in 1951, a contract with the Metropolitan Opera Company was not always awarded. One or more "winners" often received more valued prizes. Therefore, the designations "top prize winners," when applicable, and "other winners" are used. An asterisk (*) after a name indicates that a Met contract was included in the top prize.
1951 Top Prize Winner: Maria Leone (s) (4) Other Winners: Fred Thomas (br) and Paul Knowles (t)
1952 Winners: Charles Anthony (t) (32+) (115) and Arthur Budney (br) (5)
1953 Top Prize Winner: Heide Krall (s)* (10) Other Winners: Robert McFerrin (br) (3) and Marie Traficante (s)
1954 Top Prize Winner: Louis Sgarro (bs-br)* (21) Other Winners: Albert DaCosta (t) (8), Marjorie Catherine McClung (s) and Christina C. Cordilla (s)
1955 Top Prize Winner: Louis Quiliico (bs-br) (14+) Other Winners: Madeline Chambers (s) (4) and William Lewis (t) (14+)
1956 Winners: Robert Nagy (also National Council Auditions winner) (t) (28+), Carlotta Ordassy (s) (21), Maria Ferriero (s), Rose Byrum (s) (1) and Clair Watson (s)
1957 Top Prize Winner: Ezio Flagello (bs)* (23) Other Winners: Saramae Endich (s), Charles O'Neill (t), Eileen Di Tullio (s) and Linda McNaughton (ms)
1958 Winners: Martina Arroyo (s) (18), Grace Bumbry (ms, s) (18+), Charles K. L. Davis (t) and Lillian Messina (s)
There were other contestants who did not make it to the finals, but later became members of the Metropolitan Opera Company, for whom exposure through the Auditions of the Air helped foster their careers. These include Lucielle Browning, Walter Cassel, Eugene Conley, Margaret Daum, Jean Dickenson, John Dudley, Rosalind Elias, John Gurney, Raoul Jobin, Martha Lipton, Nicholas Massue, Martial Singher, Richard Tucker, Sandra Warfield, Marie Wilkins, and Elsa Zebranska.
(1.) Several books provide brief histories of the Auditions of the Air. See Irving Kolodin, The Story of the Metropolitan Opera, 1883-1950 (New York: Alfred A.Knopf, 1953); Thomas A. DeLong, The Mighty Music Box: The Golden Age of Musical Radio (Los Angeles: Amber Crest, 1980); and Albert E. Weir, Thesaurus of the Arts (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1943). A short history of the Auditions of the Air and its successor, the National Council Auditions, is also given on the Metropolitan Opera National Council's website. See "A Brief History of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions." Online at http://www.moncwidistrict.org/national_council.asp; accessed 24 July 2010.
(2.) Kolodin, The Story of the Metropolitan; DeLong, The Mighty Music Box.
(3.) Weir, Thesaurus of the Arts, p.444; Regina Resnik, "A Necessary Evil," Opera News, 28 March 1964, pp.8-12; Jay Media, "The Door to Grand Opera for Young American Singers: The Absorbing Story of 'The Auditions of the Air' as Told by Its Brilliant Director, Wilfrid Pelletier, Part I," Etude, March 1949, pp. 136-137, 195; Jay Media, "The Door to Grand Opera for Young American Singers: The Absorbing Story of 'The Auditions of the Air' as Told by Its Brilliant Director, Wilfrid Pelletier, Part II," Etude, April 1949, pp.208-209, 220, 255.
(4.) "Behind the Scenes: Listeners to Hear the Opera Auditions in Series of Broadcasts," New York Times, 22 December 1935, p.X11.
(5.) "Singers Win Chance at Opera in Contest," New York Times, 30 March 1936, p.16.
(6.) Although some sources credit Rise Stevens with winning the 1936 Auditions, she was a runnerup to Kaskas. In