By DAVID SPEAKMAN
For The Muncie Star (Page T-15)
The second half-century of Texaco-Metropolitan Opera live Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts will begin with Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 8 on WBST-FM 92.1.
The broadcast marks the 5th birthday of the Texaco-Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts, which constitute the longest continuous national sponsorship of a radio program in broadcast history. It was on Dec. 6, 1940, that the very first Texaco-Metropolitan Opera broadcast was presented, and the opera that historic afternoon was Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.
The cast for Saturday’s broadcast of La Traviata will feature three American singers in the major roles: Diana Sovierro as Violetta, Jerry Hadley as Alfredo Germont and Brian Schexnayder as his father, Giorgio Garmont. American conductor Rico Saccani will make his Met broadcast debut leading the performance. The announcer is Peter Allen.
To mark this 50th anniversary, WBST is offering a special 1990-1991 Metropolitan Opera broadcast schedule to the readers of The Muncie Star who read this column. All you need to do is write: WBST, Ball State University, Muncie IN 47306-0550 and ask for your free schedule.
Last week I mentioned that WBST plans on airing about 40 special programs for the December holiday season. Get ready, because next week they will be listed in an easy-reference format.
Today, however, you’ll get a special preview of our holiday music specials that will air Dec. 11 to 25. During these weeks, WBST offers a variety of special programming.
Western Wind: A Celebration of Light, A Jazz Piano Christmas, Handel’s Messiah at St. Thomas Church, the 1990 St. Olaf Christmas Special and An Acoustic Christmas: Steve Wariner and Friends will evoke reveries and reminiscences, from traditional and contemporary to regional and international.
The history and legend of contemporary religious celebrations are woven together with music in the Dec. 18 hour-long special, Western Wind: A Celebration of Light. The acclaimed Western Wind Vocal Ensemble’s unique repertoire includes music and songs representative of the spirituality and significance of the winter solstice, renaissance and Hanukkah.
America’s original art form is the focus of A Jazz Piano Christmas, a 1-hour Dec. 22 special featuring keyboard specialists Billy Taylor, George Shearing, Marian McPartland and other notables from the jazz world. A Jazz Piano Christmas will use the “let’s-take-it-easy” philosophy of its genre for high-energy celebration.
Two musical events that mark the season’s sacred mood are the production of Handel’s Messiah at St. Thomas Church, hosted by Dudley Moore, and the 1990 St. Olaf Christmas Special: Arise ans Set the Captive Free. These specials will be broadcast Dec. 22 and 24, respectively.
Messiah presents original instruments and a men’s and boy’s choir as specified by the 18th-century composer. The ensemble of soloists and instruments, exquisitely blended by Handel, is under the artistic direction of James Richman.
The St. Olaf Choir joins the St. Olaf Orchestra in the all-new musical event – the 1990 St. Olaf Christmas Special. The 90-minute concert features the world famous 400-voice massed choir and 100-member orchestra conducted by Anton Armstrong.
Dec. 23’s An Acoustic Christmas reaffirms the true American spirit with 2 hours of outstanding performances by some of Nashville’s finest musicians and greatest storytellers. Chet Atkins, Emmylou Harris, Maura O’Connell and othres get together in the city where country and western sound began.
The Woman of Japan
At 5:30 tonight on Horizons, host Vertamae Grosvenor explores the world of the modern Japanese woman. While Japan advances as a world power, women in Japan are still struggling to break free from traditional roles, as seen in tonight’s features, “Women in Japan Speak Out.”
During the past 10 years, many Japanese women have been making changes in the office and at home. This program features women from many walks of life – all reflecting on Japan’s complex society from a feminine point of view.