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re: I'm confused. Does anyone actually WANT to see opera stars perform musicals?
Last Edit: AlanScott 04:29 pm EDT 07/30/20
Posted by: AlanScott 04:27 pm EDT 07/30/20
In reply to: re: I'm confused. Does anyone actually WANT to see opera stars perform musicals? - Snowysdad 07:04 pm EDT 07/29/20

Re miking: By the mid-1940s (certainly by the late 1940s) most Broadway musicals had floor mikes and probably area mikes, too. Some of the more operatic musicals (and operettas and the actual operas performed on Broadway) didn't, but most shows had miking.

Re Alfred Drake: Perhaps he did more opera than I know of. But at least from what I know, I wouldn’t say he had even a minor opera career.

This is what I know of. In 1935, when he was 20, he sang for one summer with a small opera company performing on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City. His roles included Rocco in Fidelio, which is kind of funny for a 20-year-old. As far as I know, that Steel Pier season was it for him in terms of live performances of full operas, unless we count the Gilbert and Sullivan he did, which (at least as far I know) wasn’t much.

Did Drake do more that I don’t know of?

I heard him say in an interview some years back — I heard the interview long after it was originally broadcast — that he had aspired to a career in opera. In 1940, he auditioned for the Met via record. He sent the Met three recordings, which were of Mercutio's Queen Mab aria from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, the duet for the Count and Susanna from Le Nozze di Figaro, and Tchaikovsky’s “None But the Lonely Heart.” Those are now available in the Stage Door set of Drake recordings. My memory is that in the radio interview he said that he eventually realized he would be relegated to comprimario roles because he didn’t have the kind of voice to sing leading roles. He said that he only wanted to do leading roles, he was not interested in being a supporting player, and his voice would allow him to sing leads in musicals but not in opera so he decided to do musicals. (Of course, he also had a career in nonmusicals.)

When you write, "in my opinion he was second rate as an opera baritone (just not enough meat on the bones of the voice)," are you basing that on the three recordings I mentioned, along with the little Gilbert and Sullivan we have from him? I just ask because I’m wondering if you know of more opera recordings from him. In any case, he agreed with you.

Drake’s brother, Arthur Kent, sang at the Met for several seasons in exactly the sort of roles that Drake probably would have sung had he pursued a career in opera. His best role there seems to have been Masetto, although he got a few other good supporting roles, such as Silvio in Pagliacci, along with a bunch of really minor ones.

Dorothy Kirsten did perform in operettas onstage, including The New Moon at City Center in 1944. The production was miked.
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