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Subject: Met casts
From: charles mintzer <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:charles mintzer <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 4 Mar 2017 14:41:59 -0500

text/plain (25 lines)

Bob Rideout is right on this issue.

Standard Met and Chicago opera contacts indicated the weeks the artist had to be available and a list of operas they might be called upon to sing.

Bob Tuggle told me that he had developed repertoire information on both Frida Leider and Kirsten Flagstad. Leider bridled that Gatti-Casazza insisted that Sieglinde was on her expected repertoire list; this stubbornness on Gatti’s part was one, not the only, reason Leider did not re-sign a contract for 1934-35; the rest is history. Gatti insisted that the Marscahllin was on Flagstad’s list of roles she was expected to know. She was not happy about this, but was assured that she would not be called upon to sing that role. Gatti had an institutional idea of what a Wagnerian soprano was supposed to know and insisted on this in contracts issued in his name. 

Remember, in those days productions were pretty standard; an artist could go into a production with perhaps an hour spent with the sage director telling the artist where to stand and appropriate gestures. That being said, a star like Mario del Monaco knew he was doing a run of “Otello”s and Renata Tebaldi knew she was opening the season in “Tosca.”

I remember well, since I started going to the Met in the early fifties, on a Monday the NYTimes and the Herald Tribune announced the cast for the following weeks; sometimes there were real surprises. 

In repertory houses like the Met and Chicago the exact dates of performances was frequently on very short notice. Pre-internet, the most many of us knew for sure, was information people like Lois Kirschbaum passed out. Lois checked with artists and their mangers and had, for those days, good information. No Wiki Met futures for five years hence.
Charles Mintzer

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