Great Stars of Opera - Telecasts From The Bell Telephone Hour,1959-1966

Great Stars of Opera - Telecasts From The Bell Telephone Hour,1959-1966

  • $34.99

The DVD is featured by original recording of the performance and NOT digitally re-mastered

Great Stars of Opera

FOR NEARLY A DECADE, THE BELL TELEPHONE HOUR, guided by producer Henry Jaffe, set the standard for the presentation of classical culture on mainstream television. The series, which ran from January of 1959 through April of 1968, featured performers from many areas of the arts, mixed together in true variety fashion. Unlike other contemporary variety shows, however, the Bell Telephone Hour did not treat the operatic segments as merely a "civic duty" — rather, they were given lavish attention. Operatic arias and scenes were permitted to run their full length, without the usual cutting and trimming; staging, costumes, and sets were on the level of a first-class opera company; and the photography and lighting effects often displayed a creativity rivalling film production (see, for example, the transfiguring shower of light enveloping Eileen Farrell at the climax of the "Liebestod"). In addition to rewarding the viewers, these factors also had an effect on the singers, who generally appear more comfortable than in their other television performances.

The unifying musical force behind the series was conductor Donald Voorhees (1903-1989). Voorhees had been music director of the Bell Telephone Hour from the time of its debut as a radio program in 1940 and continued in that capacity until the last telecast in 1968. The show's theme music, aptly titled "The Bell Waltz," was composed by Voorhees; it is retained in this collection for the opening and closing credits.

Aside from its artistic achievements, the Bell Telephone Hour holds a distinction in the technical realm. It is one of earliest series telecast in color and preserved in color. In fact, the first two programs in the series — featuring Renata Tebaldi on January 12, 1959 and Rise Stevens on February 10, 1959 — are among the very earliest color telecasts known to exist today. Special thanks go to Bill Di Cicco and the team at Research Video in North Hollywood for their painstaking efforts to obtain the best quality from the original tape and film sources.

Here, then, is a collection of performances by the most celebrated opera stars of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Thanks to the Bell Telephone Hour's high production values, these performances retain an immediacy and vitality that bring us back to the glory of an operatic Golden Age.

Corelli, Crespin, De Los Angeles, Di Stefano, Farrel, Gedda, London, Merrill, Moffo, Nilsson, Peters, Price, Simionato, Stevens, Sutherland, Tebaldi, Tucker, Vickers

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