Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Up Close and Personal: Opera and Television Broadcasting in the 1950s

  • DANIELLE WARD-GRIFFIN

Abstract

This article examines early pedagogical experiments in opera on television that were meant to attract new audiences in the 1950s. The aesthetics of early television have often been thought to run contrary to opera, particularly in its grander iterations, but I argue that television producers capitalized upon the traits of early television to personalize opera, both on and off screen. Comparing two NBC pedagogical initiatives—a 1958 Omnibus program starring Leonard Bernstein and the 1956–57 visits of the NBC Opera Company to Saint Mary's College (South Bend, Indiana)—I explore how these efforts were meant to approximate the opera fan's experience as well as prepare audience members to enter the opera house. Ultimately, although opera on television failed to secure a strong foothold in the 1950s, it helped to re-envision the ways in which American audiences could relate to the art form and set the terms for the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD broadcasts today.

Copyright

References

Hide All
National Broadcasting Company History Files. Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.
National Broadcasting Company Records. Wisconsin Historical Society. Madison, WI.
Saint Mary's College Archives. South Bend, IN.
Barnes, Jennifer. “Television Opera: A Non History.” In A Night in at the Opera: Media Representations of Opera, edited by Tambling, Jeremy, 2551. London: John Libbey & Company, 1994.
Barnes, Jennifer. Television Opera: The Fall of Opera Commissioned for Television. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2003.
Boddy, William. Fifties Television: The Industry and Its Critics. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1982.
Bogart, Leo. The Age of Television: A Study of Viewing Habits and the Impact of Television on American Life, 3rd ed. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1972.
Bolter, Jay David and Grusin, Richard. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.
Burke, Richard C.A History of Televised Opera in the United States.” PhD diss., University of Michigan, 1963.
Bussell, Jan. The Art of Television. London: Faber & Faber, 1952.
Citron, Marcia. Opera on Screen. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000.
Deaville, James. “Toscanini, Ormandy, and the First Televised Orchestra Concert(s): The Networks and the Broadcasting of Musical Celebrity.” In Music and the Broadcast Experience: Performance, Production, and Audiences, edited by Baade, Christina and Deaville, James, 193211. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Dizikes, John. Opera in America: A Cultural History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993.
Esse, Melina. “Don't Look Now: Opera, Liveness, and the Televisual.” Opera Quarterly 26, no. 1 (Winter 2010): 8195.
Gelleny, Sharon. “Leonard Bernstein on Television: Bridging the Gap between Classical Music and Popular Culture.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 11–12, no. 1 (March 1999): 4867.
Jacobs, Jason. The Intimate Screen: Early British Television Drama. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000.
Kirk, Elise K. American Opera. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001.
Morris, Christopher. “Digital Diva: Opera on Video.” Opera Quarterly 26, no. 1 (Winter 2010): 96119.
Rose, Brian G. Televising the Performing Arts: Interviews with Merrill Brockway, Kirk Browning and Roger Englander. Contributions to the Study of Music and Dance 29. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992.
Rose, Brian G. Television and the Performing Arts: A Handbook and Reference Guide to American Cultural Programming. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986.
Senici, Emanuele. “Opera on Italian Television: The First Thirty Years, 1954–1984.” In Opera and Video: Technology and Spectatorship, edited by Pérez, Héctor J., 4570. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 2012.
Senici, Emanuele. “Porn Style?: Space and Time in Live Opera Videos.” Opera Quarterly 26, no. 1 (Winter 2010): 6380.
Sheppard, Anthony W.Review of the Metropolitan Opera's New HD Movie Theatre Broadcasts.” American Music 25, no. 3 (Fall 2007): 383–87.
Spigel, Lynn. Make Room for TV: Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1992.
Steichen, James. “HD Opera: A Love/Hate Story.” Opera Quarterly 27, no. 4 (Fall 2011): 443–59.
Steichen, James. “The Metropolitan Opera Goes Public: Peter Gelb and the Institutional Dramaturgy of ‘The Met Live in HD.’” Music and the Moving Image 2, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 2430.
Taylor, Timothy. “The Role of Opera in the Rise of Radio.” In Music and the Broadcast Experience: Performance, Production, and Audiences, edited by Baade, Christina and Deaville, James, 6990. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Vancour, Shawn. “Spectacular Sound: Classical Music Programming and the Problem of ‘Visual Interest’ in Early US Television.” In Music and the Broadcast Experience: Performance, Production, and Audiences, edited by Baade, Christina L. and Deaville, James, 91107. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Ward-Griffin, Danielle. “As Seen on TV: Putting the NBC Opera on Stage.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 71, no. 3 (Fall 2018): 595654.
Williams, Raymond. Television: Technology and Cultural Form. New York: Routledge, 1990.
Bernstein, Leonard, conductor. Omnibus: What Makes Opera Grand? Directed by Robbie, Seymour. Broadcast March 23, 1958, NBC.
Gounod, Charles. Metropolitan Live in HD: Roméo et Juliette. Live Broadcast, January 21, 2017.

Up Close and Personal: Opera and Television Broadcasting in the 1950s

  • DANIELLE WARD-GRIFFIN

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed