The Life and Times of Gloria Lane, Part III
Gloria Lane was a part of the NYC Opera Company's annual fall visit to
Chicago, as seen at the Civic Opera House. In 1952 and ~Q53, Gloria's
Carmen was heard opposite tenor David Poleri. Up to this point, several
attempts had been made to establish an opera company in Chicago, with each
going "bust," until 1954 when the Chicago Lyric company was formed. For
the NYC Opera Company, Chicago became the scene of a troubling incidents.
First, Maestro Laszlo Halasz, a founder of the company, was forced to
resign over an event that occurred in the run of Chicago performances when
an orchestral musician claimed Halasz, in a fit of anger, had thrown his
baton at him. Halasz claimed the baton slipped out of his hand and refused
to apologize. This brought onto the scene, the musicians' union's feisty
chairman, James C. Petrillo. With this standoff threatening to impair
relations with the musicians, the NYC Opera board forced Halasz to resign.
He was replaced by Joseph Rosenstock. During the last Chicago visit,
Gloria was to find herself in the middle of another dispute, this time
between tenor David Poleri and Joseph Rosenstock.
In the meantime, Gloria was back in the spring of 1953 with the company at
its home at the old Mecca Temple on West 55th Street in her customary role
of Carmen. Walter Fredericks was her Don Jose and Joseph Rosenstock was in
the pit. During that season, she was also seen as the Secretary in a
revival of Menotti's "The Consul," with Thomas Shippers, conducting and
Patricia Neway as Magda Sorel.
Apr 23 Rosalind Nadel is too ill to go on as Annina in Strauss's "Der
Rosenkavalier." Gloria substitutes at the last minute. Edith Evans was
Octavian, Ann McKnight, the Marschallin and Frances Bible, the Octavian.
Joseph Rosenstock in the pit.
Central City - Colorado:
July Gloria Lane alternated with Mildred Miller as Carmen in an unusual
colloquial version by Paul Green, sung in English. An extra scene was
inserted, including music from Bizet's "L'Arlesienne" with David Lloyd, the
Don Jose, speaking lines that had him confessing to a priest before he set
out to murder Carmen.
Gloria also appeared Mrs. Page in an English-language version of Nicolai's
"The Merry of Windsor." Kurt Adler conducted.
NYC Opera - fall season:
Oct 10 Gloria Lane again as Carmen, with Walter Fredericks as Don Jose.
Joseph Rosenstock in the pit.
"Gloria Lane sang the title role. She has added some new bits of stage
business. All of them could be termed effective, in a Minsky-ish sort of
way; none of them could be described as subtle. Certainly Carmen can be
less one-dimensional than Miss Lane suggests. The studied, though not
really disagreeable, characterization that Miss Lane presented did not
extend to her singing. She presented the vocal line surely and smoothly."
Harold Schonberg, NY Times.
NYC Opera at the Civic Opera House, Chicago:
Nov 19 NYC Opera back for its final eleven-day run. Gloria Lane was
again Carmen and tenor David Poleri as Don Jose. Joseph Rosenstock, the
new general director of the company was in the pit. While an excellent
musician, Rosenstock sometimes favored tempos that some of the artists
could not sustain. Nearing the end of the fourth act, Poleri had had
enough. Suddenly he turned towards Rosenstock, and shouts: "Finish it
yourself," leaving Ms. Lane stranded until the off-stage tenor voice of
Walter Fredericks as Don Jose was pressed into service.
Poleri could not be contacted at his hotel but Rosenstock was willing to
speak. He characterized the problem as Poleri's "nervous tension" growing
out of friction with other singers during Act II. When asked if Rosenstock
would attempt to discipline Poleri, Rosenstock grandly replied, "He has
eliminated himself from the company of our community." However, many who
worked with Mr. Poleri found him to be a good colleague.
More troubles for the company on its Chicago visit. Soprano Ann McKnight
claimed illness and withdrew but was later found to be singing for the
Teatro San Carlo in Naples and her contract was terminated. Chicago was
rife with rumors of a new company that would be seen on the boards within
three months with an all-star "Don Giovanni.. That company was the Lyric
Opera, later, the chnaging its name to "The Lyric Opera of Chicago" and
would feature in its first season Maria Callas as Lucia, Norma and
Violetta. However, the loss of the Chicago booking and the financial
guarantees by local Chciago sponsors for the NYC Opera created substantial
fiscal woes and was the root of a later spring season cancellation back in
CBS - Omnibus:
Jan 31 Gloria Lane appears on high-brow CBS Sunday afternoon television
program called "Omnibus."
NYC Opera - spring season:
Apr 11 Gloria Lane as Maddalena in Verdi's "Rigoletto, with Cornell
MacNeil in title role. Julius Rudel in the pit.
"Gloria Lane was a seductive-looking Maddalena, who brought a clear,
accurate mezzo-soprano to the famous quartet." Ross Parmenter, NY Times.
Apr 16 Gloria Lane back in role of Carmen.
Apr 22 Gloria Lane in Menotti's "Amal and the Night Visitors" as the
Mother. Work was given in a double-bill with Copland's "The Tender Lane,"
which was a world premiere.
NYC Opera - fall season:
Sept 29 Gloria Lane in opening night's "Aida" as Amneris with Frances
Yeend in title part. Joseph Rosenstock in the pit.
Oct 15 Gloria Lane sings the role of Antonia's mother in "Les Contes
d'Hoffmann." Laurel Hurley is Olympia, Czech soprano Eva Likova as
Giulietta and Phyllis Curtin as Antonia. Tenor Davis Cunningham as
Hoffmann. Thomas Schippers in the pit.
Oct 17 Gloria Lane as Carmen. Frank Ekart as Don Jose.
Oct 30 Gloria Lane again as Carmen. Walter Fredericks as Don Jose.
Dec 27 Gloria Lane as Desideria in the Broadway mounting of Giancarlo
Menotti's "Saint of Bleeker Street," with Virginia Copeland in the title
role of the "saint." The engagement ran for three months and played
nightly. David Poleri alternated with Dennis Cunningham in the role of
Michele. Although persona non grata at the NYC Opera, Poleri continued his
busy schedule on the regional circuit, New Orleans, Philadelphia, etc.
"The solo of Desideria is one of the two numbers, magnificently sung by
Gloria Lane with her rich and sensuous voice, which held up the show."
Olin Downes, NY Times.
"Gloria Lane's challenge to her runaway lover ("Love can turn to hate')
rings out with devastating fire." Walter Kerr, NY Herald Tribune.
In the chorus of that cast were a number of artists who were to later seek
substantial careers, such as Mignon Dunn, Elizabeth Carron, Maria Di
Gerlando, Richard Cassilly, Chester Ludgin, John Reardon, and Donald Grobe.
Television - The "Tonight Show" with Steve Allen on NBC:
Mar 2 Gloria Lane appeared on the Tonight Show and sang an aria from
"The Saint of Bleeker Street."
American Opera Society:
Mar 22 Gloria Lane is Poppea at Town Hall in a concert version of
"L'Incoronazione di Poppea" in a debated English translation by Chester
Kallman. Arnold Gamson conducted. Among those who were her colleagues:
Paul Frank, Nero, Chester Watson, Seneca, Donald Gramm, Ottone and Sarah
"Gloria Lane, the Poppea, is the same finely gifted artist, of an unusually
sensuous voice, that we have heard before." Olin Downes, NY Times.
Downes also noted that the opera was hardly usual fare for NYC audiences,
but welcomed it enthusiastically. Gamson was obviously enamored with the
piece, having programmed it on February 3, 1953 previously. The repetition
may have come about as a result of a stronger cast he wanted to present to
his subscribers or that it was felt that the Kallman translation might
better communicate to his audience. Even so, Downes noted there were many
who arrived stylishly late, while others departed stylishly early.
Later on, it would become customary that the roles of Nero and Ottone be
performed and recorded by mezzo-contraltos, rather than tenors or baritones.
NYC Opera - spring season:
Mar 26 Ms. Lane again as Carmen with tenor Walter Fredericks as Jose.
Apr 3 Gloria Lane, having barely left the "The Saint of Bleeker Street"
on Broadway appears in two different operas for a Saturday matinee and
evening. First the matinee of "Rigoletto" as Maddelena, and later on, as
Annina in "Der Rosenkavalier."
Next installment: Gloria debuts at La Scala.