Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 August 2019
On the threshold of our modernity, on 29 March 1901, Lionel Mapleson made two artful cylinder phonautogramsof the air. It was no ordinary air. His wax tracings captured for posterity the legendary vocal tones of the fifty-year-old Jean de Reszke and the chorus of the old Metropolitan Opera House in Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin. The atmosphere was thick with anticipation for this final gala performance of the first twentieth-century season, an event that had been offered as an extra night to subscribers, and the last time that Reszke would appear in New York in a complete opera. The newspapers reported a crush as never before in the lobby and outside on the street for ‘the strongest cast which can be brought together’, including Jean’s younger brother Édouard, David Bispham, Adolph Mühlmann, soprano Milka Ternina and Bohemian–German contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink.