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Subject: Re: the real final night at the old Met 1966
From: Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 8 Jun 2018 18:48:04 +0000
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The destruction of the Met came not long after the destruction of the 
old Penn Station, at a time when people were only beginning to think 
about historic preservation. There were many good reasons for the Met to 
move but it's hard to imagine something similar happening today. I miss 
the old building (which I know only from pictures); I find the acoustics 
in the new building somewhere between acceptable and terrific, depending 
on where you're seated. (It is, however, in every way superior to the 
current Penn Station, a building that I doubt has ever provided a second 
of aesthetic pleasure).

I'm curious about the first operatic performance in the "new" house--a 
performance of Fanciulla sponsored by the Opera Guild for an audience of 
students and teachers (and some Met figures, including Leonie Rysanek 
and Richard Tucker) used to test the acoustics in the new building. The 
audience members were shepherded from the old Met to the new one. Does 
anyone know anyone who was there, or remember any stories about what it 
was like?

This discussion made me dig out my copy of the program from the farewell 
gala (purchased years ago at a book sale). One of my favorite things 
about it are the photographs of the "behind the scenes" staff one rarely 
glimpses--the tailors, mechanics, ushers, etc. Also, the ads for the 
mammoth cabinets to hold stereo systems brought back memories.

Rich

------ Original Message ------
From: "Bob Rideout" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: 6/8/2018 2:28:49 PM
Subject: Re: the real final night at the old Met 1966

>It's not a "yes" or "no" answer, I think.
>
>When the Met gave its last performance, and Stokowski, Albanese
>and others pleaded to "Save the Met", I joined in the applause, and
>certainly subsequent events, which include the fact that no memorial
>to its existence even exists today, is a great sorrow to me.
>
>But, as those same subsequent events disclosed, the building was in
>danger of collapse, and the roof was in terrible disrepair. Apparently
>it had been a danger to public safety for some time.It had to go!
>
>The Met also needed the income from the property, and I became
>convinced once the practical considerations surfaced that the right
>decision had been made.
>
>However, I have always felt the the Old House was ideally located
>and Lincoln Center was not. Every subway in NYC had a station within
>one block of Broadway and 40th Street, the Path trains and Port
>Authority to New Jersey were a block away nd the Long Island Railroad
>was a six block walk. It was a commuter's dream. Lincoln Center
>became for many a commute's nightmare.
>
>The acoustic at Lincoln Center is fine. Audio technological "advances"
>that I believe are misused, is mainly the problem, I think. 
>Spaciousness
>has replaced fidelity, and voices are secondary, as is true of every
>aspect of operatic production. That is a rant! ;-)
>
>Bob
>
>On Fri, Jun 8, 2018 at 14:08 David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>>There was what I think must have been a repeat of an older documentary 
>>on
>>the transition from the old to the new Met (Leontyne Price was 
>>completely
>>disarming in her appreciation of how great a singer she was -- that's 
>>a
>>real
>>diva).  I thought the documentary was very sophisticated in its
>>presentation
>>of the kind of thinking that was typical in the NY of Robert Moses, 
>>and for
>>that matter, Rudolph Bing.
>>
>>My question is this.  There must be only a few people left on the List 
>>who
>>remember the old house.  Do you feel there should have been steps 
>>taken to
>>make it more practical rather than tearing it down?  It may be my
>>imagination, but once the technology gets good enough I hear on the 
>>Sirius
>>broadcasts a kind of very particular resonance from the the original 
>>house
>>that the new house utterly  lacks.  It's different from, but almost as
>>pronounced as Bayreuth, whose broadcasts you can identify just from 
>>the
>>sound.
>>
>>I realize that many seats had obstructed views, there was no place to 
>>store
>>productions, etc., etc.  But should the old Met have been saved, and 
>>would
>>our changed perceptions of historic architecture be able to do it 
>>today?
>>
>>David Kubiak

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