re: Alan: any stats on Weede and his performance no-shows? nmi
Last Edit: AlanScott 08:26 pm EST 12/03/18
Posted by: AlanScott 08:23 pm EST 12/03/18
In reply to: re: Alan: any stats on Weede and his performance no-shows? nmi - larry13 10:43 pm EST 12/02/18

People do say that Bing had something against American singers, yet lots of American singers flourished under his regime. There were definitely others he did not favor, and we know he did not take kindly to singers who he felt undermined his authority in any way, but many did flourish, even if most of them had to first gain favor in Europe.

It's also true that Weede did not record much opera. I don't know if this was because he perhaps also didn't have a big European career. I can't find much record of a European career. He seems to have mostly worked with the major U.S. companies outside New York and in South America. And, of course, there was no shortage of major baritones during his active career and so . . .

Here is a paragraph from a 1995 George Jellinek article in Opera News titled "On the Home Front":

"Radio City Music Hall in those days frequently featured operas in abbreviated form. When Peerce joined the Met, he was reunited with two former baritone colleagues from Radio City, Robert Weede and Leonard Warren. Weede's debut preceded Warren's by one and a half years, but it was the latter who made faster inroads, graduating to the declining Tibbett's starry roles at an increasing pace. At the Music Hall, Weede had been a featured singer, Warren a member of the chorus. Their rivalry, as Peerce explained to me many years later, continued for the rest of their careers. Weede, a highly esteemed artist who was underused at the Met, nonetheless flourished, particularly at San Francisco Opera and later in musicals."

Was Jellinek trying to indirectly suggest that Warren, once he became a major name, tried to keep Weede from being hired at the Met with any regularity, especially in Warren's roles?

I can't find any evidence of Weede having done much in musicals prior to Most Happy Fella, but I'm not sure if Bing was necessarily inclined to blackball singers who did musicals as long as they did not interfere too much with his own plans. Blanche Thebom, for example, did operettas and musicals in summer stock, but she continued to sing regularly at the Met under Bing. Siepi was welcome at the Met after the failure of Bravo, Giovanni! I think Mildred Miller was another Met mezzo who did operettas and musicals in the summer but Bing continued to employ her regularly in important roles. (She is someone who did not record much, which I'm sorry about as I love her voice on the few recordings of hers I know. I'm aware that she was not Bruno Walter's first choice for his final Das Lied von der Erde recording, but I love her on it. I know her performance there is not considered first-rate by some but she's one of my favorites in that music.) Miller also sang popular music on radio. She's still around. She'll be 94 in December. And there were others. There was so much more "crossover" back then there is now. More of it was with NYCO singers than with those who were Met regulars but even Met regulars did cross over.

And, of course, Bing brought to the Met directors, designers, some performers and even lyricists (well, at least Howard Dietz) from Broadway.

Returning to Weede: apart from the one LP of Carmen excerpts for Columbia (featuring Met forces and other leading singers), on which he got to sing the "Toreador Song," he also did an LP of Verdi arias for Capitol, recorded (I think) in 1953 and issued in late 1954. Some of that (maybe all of it?) is on a Preiser CD devoted to him, and of course a few broadcasts have been issued over the years. He may have recorded some commercial 78s. But it's sad how little opera he recorded commercially. That Capitol LP got great reviews, and yet as far as I know there was nothing more from him in commercially recorded opera after that.

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