NBC Opera Theatre

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents




he NBC Opera Theatre was an American opera company operated by the National Broadcasting Company from 1949 to 1964. The company was established specifically for the purpose of televising operas. Additionally, the company also gave live theatrical presentations of operas, sponsoring several touring productions in the United States and mounting works on Broadway

Conductor Peter Herman Adler served as the NBCOT's music and artistic director, and Samuel Chotzinoff as the company's producer. Conductor Herbert Grossman was an associate conductor with the company when it was founded, but was later promoted to conductor in 1956.[2] From that point on Adler and Grossman shared the conducting load while Adler remained Music Director. NBC disbanded the NBC Opera Theatre in 1964 and liquidated its assets. The company performed a total of 43 operas for NBC, the majority of which were broadcast on the program NBC Television Opera Theatre. The organization's work garnered 3 Primetime Emmy Award nominations. All of the performances were broadcast live from an NBC studio and were not pre-recorded or edited before airing, although kinescopes and later videotapes were made of live broadcasts for delayed broadcast purposes in some areas.

During its 14 year history, the NBC Opera Theatre commissioned several composers to write operas specifically for television. The most famous and most successful of these works was the very first new opera filmed by the company, Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, which premiered on December 24, 1951. It was the first opera specifically composed for television in America. Other operas commissioned by the company included Bohuslav Martinů's The Marriage (1953), Lukas Foss' Griffelkin (1955), Norman Dello Joio's The Trial at Rouen (1956), Leonard Kastle's The Swing, Stanley Hollingsworth's La Grande Bretèche (1957), Menotti's Maria Golovin (1958), Philip Bezanson's Golden Child (1960), Kastle's Deseret (1961) and Menotti's Labyrinth (1963

Most NBC Opera telecasts were sponsored by Texaco, who was also the longtime sponsor of radio broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera. Nearly all NBCOT presentations after the middle 1950's were broadcast in color.

Who talked about this show

Paul Bogart

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Paul Bogart briefly on working with NBC Opera director Kirk Browning

Kirk Browning

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Kirk Browning on working with Arturo Toscanini on NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on his work on the NBC Opera Theatre production of "Salome" with non-singers John Cassavetes and Sal Mineo
Kirk Browning on doing the first color and videotaped shows for NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on the technical aspects of bringing opera to television with NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on the person who taught him the ropes of stage managing, and on working on NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on the rehearsal process for NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on casting for NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on the staging of NBC Opera Theatre, and on miking the actors
Kirk Browning on how operas were chosen for NBC Opera Theatre, and on the translations
Kirk Browning on the evolution of the camera technique on NBC Opera Theatre, and on the notion of television as a true art form
Kirk Browning on the sponsors of NBC Opera Theatre, and on audience reaction to the show
Kirk Browning on favorite productions of NBC Opera Theatre including "Trouble in Tahiti" by Leonard Bernstein
Kirk Browning on putting on "Carmen" and "Magic Flute" for NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on working with choreographer George Balanchine on NBC Opera Theatre, and on some of his favorite episodes
Kirk Browning on the end of NBC Opera Theatre

Bob McGrath

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Bob McGrath on one of his first jobs in television, working on the NBC Opera Theatre

E. Roger Muir

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E. Roger Muir on directing NBC Opera Theatre

Fred Rogers

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Fred Rogers on working as floor manager at NBC on NBC Opera Theatre which put on "Amahl and the Night Visitors"

James Wall

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James Wall on appearing on NBC Opera Theatre

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