Monday, February 11
During the 1906-1907 season of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, America’s premiere opera company staged a mini-festival of operas by a living composer—the Italian Giacomo Puccini.
The Met’s star tenor, Enrico Caruso, could be heard in revival productions of Puccini’s “La Boheme” and “Tosca”—operas that still qualified as “contemporary music,” being just 10 and 7 years old respectively. And, with Caruso again in the leading male roles, the Met scheduled the company premiere of Puccini’s first big operatic success, “Manon Lescaut” and, on today’s date in 1907, the American premiere of Puccini’s newest opera, “Madame Butterfly.”
The Met arranged for Puccini himself to come to New York to supervise the rehearsals for “Manon Lescaut” and “Madame Butterfly,” but his ship was delayed by bad weather. Puccini arrived in New York on the day of the scheduled premiere of “Manon Lescaut,” and rushed to his box at the opera house just in time for the start of Act II—but not before acknowledging a big ovation from the audience.
If America was enthusiastic about Puccini, the feeling apparently was reciprocated. In 1912, Puccini visited the New York studios of Columbia Records to record a greeting to his American fans. His greeting was in Italian, but concluded with two words of English—a quote from the libretto for his “Madama Butterfly”—“America forever!”
Music Played in Today's Program
Giacomo Puccini (1858 - 1924)
Madame Butterfly Suite
Rome Symphony; Domenico Savino, cond.
the 1912 recording of the voice of Puccini
Grammofono 2000 #AB-78779
Swedish song composer Carl Mikael Bellman, age 55, in Stockholm.
Austrian composer Franz Schmidt, age 72, in Perchtoldsdorf.
Bach: Sacred Cantata No. 127 ("Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott") performed on Estomihi Sunday as part of Bach's second annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig (1724/25).
Handel: opera “Admeto” in London (Julian date: Jan. 31).
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 in d, in Vienna, with the composer as soloist.
Donizetti: opera "La fille du régiment" (The Daughter of the Regiment), at the Opéra-Comique in Paris.
Verdi: opera "I Lombardi" (The Lombards) in Milan at the Teatro alla Scala.
Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 (2nd and 3rd movements only), by Vienna Philharmonic, with Wilhelm Jahn conducting. Gustav Mahler led the Vienna Philharmonic on February 26, 1899, in the first, heavily cut, performance of the complete work.
Rachmaninoff: “Trio élégiaque” (Elegiac Trio) No. 1 in G minor, for violin, cello, and piano, in Moscow, with David Kreyn (violin), Anatoly Brandukov (cello), and the composer at the piano (Julian date: Jan. 30).
Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in a version prepared by Ferdinand Löwe, by the Vienna Symphony, with Löwe conducting. The original version of Bruckner's Ninth was first performed at a private concert in Munich on April 2, 1932, and then at a public Vienna Philharmonic concert conducted by Clemens Krauss on October 23, 1932.
Ernest Bloch: "Evocations" for orchestra, by the San Francisco Symphony, Pierre Monteux conducting.
Stravinsky: "Orpheus" ballet (as a concert work), by the Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky conducting. The staged ballet had premiere in New York on April 28, 1948.
Hugo Weisgall: opera 'The Tenor," in Baltimore.
Chávez: Symphony No. 4 ("Sinfonía romantica") by the Louisville Orchestra, with the composer conducting.
Henze: "Compases para Preguntas ensimismandes" in Basel, Switzerland.
Feldman: "Voices and Instruments II," in Buffalo, N.Y..
First documented American performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 at the New York's Broadway Tabernacle, by the German Society of New York, Uri Corelli Hill conducting. Three movements of Beethoven's symphony (excluding the third) were given in April 3, 1841, at Boston's Odeon by the Academy of Music, Henry Schmidt conducting. The complete symphony was included on the first program given by the New York Philharmonic on December 7, 1842. The Symphony was presented next in Philadelphia (April 3, 1848), Baltimore (March 9, 1849), Louisville (May 14, 1853), St. Louis (May 17, 1853), and Milwaukee (April 27, 1855). On March 28, 1856, 30 players of the San Francisco German Society performed Beethoven's Fifth at the Music Hall in that city, with Rudolf Herold conducting (The San Francisco Chronicle review the following day noted: "The pieces in the program are very beautiful, but it must be said that some of them appeared to be considered very tedious by the greater number of the audience. The Adagio, Scherzo and Finale of Beethoven's Symphony in C Minor, for instance, are portions of a very grand and celebrated composition, but they caused many to yawn."). The first public performance of this symphony had occurred in Vienna, with the composer conducting, on Dec. 22, 1808.
American inventor Thomas A. Edison, the developer of the phonograph, is born in Milan, Ohio.
Italian composer Giacomo Puccini attends the American premiere of his opera "Madama Butterfly," conducted by Arturo Toscanini at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.