Monday, July 30, 2018

Gretel Urban Designed Costumes for U.S. Turandot Premiere at Met Opera


Summary: Gretel Urban designed costumes for the U.S. Turandot premiere at the Metropolitan Opera, which opened during the opera house’s 1926-1927 season.


Gretel Urban’s costume designs for the U.S. Turandot premiere at Met Opera: Festival Puccini ‏@festivalpuccini via Twitter Aug. 17, 2015

Gretel Urban designed costumes for the U.S. Turandot premiere at the Metropolitan Opera, which opened Nov. 16, 1926, and received 12 performances during the 1926-1927 season.
Gretel was part of the production’s design team, which was directed by Viennese stage director Wilhelm von Wymetal Sr. (1862-Nov. 11, 1937). The premiere’s program credits both Gretel and Tuscanese artist Umberto Brunelleschi (June 21, 1879-Feb. 16, 1949) for costume designs. The production’s set designer was Gretel’s father, Austrian-American architect, illustrator and set designer Joseph Urban (May 26, 1872-July 10, 1933).
Joseph Urban debuted at the Metropolitan Opera Nov. 17, 1917, as designer in the opera house’s new production of Faust by French Romantic Era composer Charles-François Gounod (June 17, 1818-Oct. 18, 1893). Three years later, his daughter Gretel debuted as a costume designer Dec. 23, 1920, in the Meteropolitan Opera’s premiere of Don Carlo by Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi (Oct. 10, 1813-Jan. 27, 1901).
The father-daughter design team collaborated on 17 Metropolitan Opera productions between 1920 and 1933. Joseph designed sets for 55 productions in his almost 16-year career at the Metropolitan Opera, from 1917 until his death in 1933.
Gretel designed costumes for 18 productions in her almost 13-year career at the Metropolitan Opera. She only worked on one production without her father. Guillaume Tell by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini (Feb. 29, 1792-Nov. 13, 1868) premiered as a new Metropolitan Opera production Jan. 5, 1923.
The new production’s director was Vienna, Austria-born stage manager Samuel Thewman (ca. 1872-March 22, 1940). The set designer was Pomponesco, northern Italy-born painter and stage designer Vittorio Rota (Nov. 8, 1864-November 1931).
Gretel worked on two production teams during her Met Opera career. In addition to Guillaume Tell, she costumed eight other productions for Samuel Thewman. In addition to Turandot, she designed costumes for eight other productions directed by Wilhelm von Wymetal Sr.
The Metropolitan Opera Archives Database credits Gretel Urban with costume designs for five productions that added to the opera house’s repertory as Metropolitan Opera premieres:
Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi (Oct. 10, 1813-Jan. 27, 1901;
Don Quichotte by Jules Massenet (May 12, 1842-Aug. 13, 1912);
La Vestale by Gaspare Spontini (Nov. 14, 1774-Jan. 24, 1851);
Le Roi d’Ys by Édouard Lalo (Jan. 27, 1823-April 22, 1892);
Pelléas et Mélisande by Achille-Claude Debussy (Aug. 22, 1862-March 25, 1918).
Gretel Urban designed costumes for the Metropolitan Opera’s staging of three U.S. premieres:
Così Fan Tutte by Wolfgang Mozart (Jan. 27, 1756-Dec. 5, 1791);
La Vida Breve by Manuel de Falla (Nov. 23, 1876-Nov. 14, 1946);
Turandot by Puccini.
She designed costumes for 10 new productions of operas already in the Metropolitan Opera’s repertoire:
Carmen by Georges Bizet (Oct. 25, 1838-June 3, 1875);
Ernani by Verdi;
Falstaff by Verdi;
Guillaume Tell by Gioachino Rossini (Fe. 29, 1792-Nov. 13, 1868);
L’Africaine by Giacomo Meyerbeer (Sept. 5, 1791-May 2, 1864);
Lohengrin by Richard Wagner (May 22, 1813-Feb. 13, 1883);
Roméo et Juliette by Gounod;
Thaïs by Massenet.
The last Metropolitan Opera production crediting Gretel Urban as costume designer is the opera house’s new production of Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel. Opening night was Nov. 5, 1927. Wilhelm von Wymetal was production director. Gretel’s father was set designer.
According to the Metropolitan Opera Archives Database, the opera house’s 1948-1949 season staging of Verdi’s Falstaff marked the last revival of a production costumed by Gretel Urban and designed by her father. Gretel shared costume design credits with German designer and painter Adolfo Hohenstein (March 18, 1854-April 12, 1928).
Gretel, also known as Gretl, was Margarete Urban’s nickname. She was born Jan. 7, 1898, in Vienna, Austria. Her father immigrated to the United States to design for the Boston Opera Company's spring 1912 operas. In 1912, Gretl, her mother Maria (“Meizzi”) Lefler Urban and her sister Helene (“Elly”) joined Joseph in Boston.
In 1918 Joseph divorced Meizzi. In January 1919, he married his second wife, dancer and pageantry specialist Mary Porter Beegle (ca. 1880-ca. 1966).
Theater art consultant Wendy Rae Waszut-Barrett notes on her theater blog, Drypigment.net: “Very little is known about her [Gretel Urban] private life and marriage.” The 1920 census lists Gretel as married to John Thurlow and living with her mother Meizzi and her sister, Elly Urban Helliwell, on Boyleston Street Boston, Massachusetts. Music publisher Carl Fisher employed Gretel as company vice president from 1950 until her retirement in 1981. She passed away Dec. 6, 1997, at the Holiday Care Center in Toms River, Ocean County, east central New Jersey.
The takeaway for Gretel Urban’s costume designs for the U.S. Turandot premiere at Met Opera is that the Austrian-American costumer designed for 18 Met Opera productions that encompassed five Met Opera premieres, three U.S. premieres and 10 new productions.

Turandot, Act II scene 2, as Turandot (Maria Jeritza) presents first of three puzzles to The Unknown Prince (Giacomo-Lauri-Volpi); Joseph Urban, setting; Gretel Urban and Umberto Brunelleschi, costumes; photo by Acme News Pictures for Musical America, Dec. 4, 1926: The Metropolitan Opera @MetOpera via Facebook Nov. 16, 2017

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
Gretel Urban’s costume designs for the U.S. Turandot premiere at Met Opera: Festival Puccini ‏@festivalpuccini via Twitter Aug. 17, 2015, @ https://twitter.com/festivalpuccini/status/633254699253239808
Turandot, Act II scene 2, as Turandot (Maria Jeritza) presents first of three puzzles to The Unknown Prince (Giacomo-Lauri-Volpi); Joseph Urban, setting; Gretel Urban and Umberto Brunelleschi, costumes; photo by Acme News Pictures for Musical America, Dec. 4, 1926: The Metropolitan Opera @MetOpera via Facebook Nov. 16, 2017, @ https://www.facebook.com/MetOpera/photos/a.134969600532.229232.20807115532/10159718785220533/

For further information:
Baltz, Trudy. “Pageantry and Mural Painting: Community Rituals in Allegorical Form.” Winterthur Portfolio, vol. 15, no. 3 (Autumn 1980): 211-228.
Available @ https://smartnightreadingroom.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/pageantry.pdf
Beegle, Mary Porter; and Jack Randall Crawford. Community Drama and Pageantry. New Haven CT: Yale University Press, MDCCCCSVI (1916).
Available via Internet Archive @ https://archive.org/details/communitydramaa01crawgoog
“Debut: Gretel Urban.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 76450 Metropolitan Opera Premiere Don Carlo {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/23/1920.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=76450
“Debut: Samuel Thewman.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 76000 La Juive {29} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/15/1920.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=76000
“Debuts: Anna Meitschik, Vittorio Rota.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 45040 New production La Gioconda {28} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/15/1909.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=45040
“Debuts: Thomas Chalmers, Pierre Monteux, Joseph Urban.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 67050 New production Faust {294} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/17/1917.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=67050
“Debuts: Paul Bender . . . Wilhelm von Wymetal.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 82040 Der Rosenkavalier {28} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/17/1922.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=82040
Festival Puccini ‏@festivalpuccini. “@MetOpera i bozzetti dell'allestimento di #Turandot del 1926, realizzati da Gretel Urban.” Twitter. Aug. 17, 2015.
Available @ https://twitter.com/festivalpuccini/status/633254699253239808
Fitzgerald, Gerald, ed. Annals of the Metropolitan Opera: The Complete Chronicle of Performances and Artists. Boston MA: G.K. Hall & Co.; New York NY: The Metropolitan Opera Guild, Inc., 1989.
Marriner, Derdriu. "Joseph Urban Designed Sets for 14 U.S. Premieres at Met Opera. Earth and Space News." Monday, July 23, 2018.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2018/07/joseph-urban-designed-sets-for-14-us.html
Marriner, Derdriu. "Joseph Urban Designed Sets for Two World Premieres at Met Opera." Earth and Space News. Monday, July 16, 2018.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2018/07/joseph-urban-designed-sets-for-two.html
Marriner, Derdriu. "Mar-a-Lago Architect Joseph Urban Also Designed Sets at Met Opera." Earth and Space News. Monday, July 9, 2018.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2018/07/mar-lago-architect-joseph-urban-also.html
Marriner, Derdriu. "Turandot Is March 24, 2018, Met Opera Saturday Matinee Broadcast." Earth and Space News. Monday, March 19, 2018.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2018/03/turandot-is-march-24-2018-met-opera.html
McGillan, Jennifer. “Von Wymetal Family (1862-1970) Collection: Biographical Sketch, William (Wilhelm) von Wymetal Senior and Junior.” Carnegie Mellon University Libraries Web Space > Hunt Library > Arts > Music.
Available @ https://libwebspace.library.cmu.edu/arts/music/wymetal
Met Opera Guild ‏@MetOperaGuild. "#OTD in 1926, Puccini's TURANDOT had its U.S. premiere at the @MetOpera! Below are the original costume designs by Gretel Urban. Catch TURANDOT tonight with Oksana Dyka in the title role. #TodayInOpera #TBT.” Twitter. Nov. 16, 2017.
Available @ https://twitter.com/MetOperaGuild/status/931168029093826561
The Metropolitan Opera @MetOpera. “Added a New Photo.” Facebook. Nov. 16, 2017.
Available @ https://www.facebook.com/MetOpera/photos/a.134969600532.229232.20807115532/10159718785220533/
The Metropolitan Opera @MetOpera. “Turandot premiered at the Met on this day in 1926. Check out costume sketches by Gretel Urban from the premiere production. Tonight, Nov 16, is the last performance of Turandot this fall. Puccini's final opera returns this spring on March 21.” Facebook. Nov. 16, 2017.
Available @ https://www.facebook.com/MetOpera/posts/10159727478105533
“Metropolitan Opera Premiere: Don Carlo.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 76450 Metropolitan Opera Premiere Don Carlo {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/23/1920.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=76450
“Metropolitan Opera Premiere: Don Quichotte.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 93070 Metropolitan Opera Premiere Don Quichotte {1} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 04/3/1926.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=93070
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Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=91120
“Metropolitan Opera Premiere: Le Roi d’Ys.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 79680 Metropolitan Opera Premiere Le Roi d'Ys {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/5/1922.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=79680
“Metropolitan Opera Premiere: Pelléas et Mélisande.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 89850 Metropolitan Opera Premiere Pelléas et Mélisande {1} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/21/1925.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=89850
“New Production: Carmen.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 85200 New production Carmen {284} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/22/1923.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=85200
“New Production: Ernani.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 79300 New production Ernani {5} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/8/1921.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=79300
“New Production: Falstaff.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 88800 New production Falstaff {33} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/2/1925.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=88800
“New Production: Guillaume Tell [William Tell].” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 82700 New production Guillaume Tell [William Tell] {15} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/5/1923.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=82700
“New Production: Hänsel und Gretel.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 97060 United States Premiere (Violanta) New Production (Hänsel und Gretel) Violanta {1} Hänsel und Gretel {93} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/5/1927.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=97060
“New Production: L’Africaine.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 83730 New production L'Africaine {25} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/21/1923.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=83730
“New Production: Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 88120 New production Les Contes d'Hoffmann {14} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/13/1924.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=88120
“New Production: Lohengrin.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 76980 New production Lohengrin {308} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/2/1921.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=76980
“New Production: Roméo et Juliette.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 82140 New production Roméo et Juliette {111} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/25/1922.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=82140
“New Production: Thaïs.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 82400 New production Thaïs {20} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/14/1922.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=82400
“United States Premiere: Così Fan Tutte.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 80750 United States Premiere Così Fan Tutte {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/24/1922.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=80750
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Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=92670
“United States Premiere: Turandot.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 94190 United States Premiere Turandot {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/16/1926.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=94190
Waszut-Barrett, Wendy, PhD (waszut_barrett@me.com). “Historical Excerpt -- ‘Women in Scenic Art,’ Gretl Urban.” Drypigment.net > Archives > February 2017. Feb. 8, 2017.
Available @ http://drypigment.net/2017/02/08/historical-excerpt-women-in-scenic-art-gretl-urban/

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