Monday, July 23, 2018

Joseph Urban Designed Sets for 14 U.S. Premieres at Met Opera


Summary: Austrian American architect, designer and illustrator Joseph Urban designed sets for 14 U.S. premieres during his almost 16-year career at Met Opera.


Joseph Urban's scenic design for Met Opera's U.S. premiere of Giacomo Puccini's La Rondine, Act III: Metropolitan Opera Archives Database

Austrian American Art Deco architect, costume and set designer and illustrator Joseph Urban designed sets for 14 U.S. premieres during his almost 16-year career at the Metropolitan Opera, from his debut in November 1917 until his death in July 1933.
The Metropolitan Opera Archives Database associates Urban with 55 production designs. The Vienna, Austria-born costume and set designer debuted at the Metropolitan Opera Nov. 17, 1917, in the Met’s new production of Faust by French Romantic Era composer Charles-François Gounod (June 17, 1818-Oct. 18, 1893). The Metropolitan Opera’s revival of Urban’s Faustian designs continued through the 1950-1951 season.
Fourteen of the 55 Urban-designed productions opened as U.S. premieres at the Metropolitan Opera. Joseph collaborated on three of the U.S. premiere productions with his costume designer daughter Gretel (Jan. 7, 1898-Dec. 6, 1997).
Saint Elizabeth by Hungarian Romantic Era composer Franz Liszt (Oct. 22, 1811-July 31, 1886) premiered Jan. 3, 1918. Richard Ordynski directed. Met Opera has not performed Liszt’s oratorio since the premiere season.
Eugene Onegin by Russian Romantic Era composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky (May 7, 1840-Nov. 6, 1893) premiered March 24, 1920. Richard Ordynski directed. Livingston Platt and Ethel Fox designed costumes.
After the 1920-1921 season, Met Opera did not perform Eugene Onegin for 36 years. Met Opera’s most recent staging, during the 2016-2017 season, revived the opera house’s third reboot, which debuted Sept. 23, 2013.
Così Fan Tutte by Wolfgang Mozart (Jan. 27, 1756-Dec. 5, 1791) premiered March 24, 1922. Samuel Thewman directed, with Gretel’s costumes.
La Vida Breve by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla (Nov. 23, 1876-Nov. 14, 1946) premiered March 6, 1926. Wilhelm von Wymetal directed, with Gretel’s costumes. Met Opera has not staged La Vida Breve since the premiere season.
Violanta by Austrian American composer and conductor Erich Korngold (May 29, 1897-Nov. 29, 1957) premiered Nov. 5, 1927. Wilhelm von Wymetal directed. Met Opera has not performed Violanta since the premiere season.
La Rondine by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (Dec. 22, 1858-Nov. 29, 1924) premiered March 10, 1928. Wilhelm von Wymetal directed. Met Opera last revived Urban’s designs during the 1935-1936 season. A new production debuted Dec. 31, 2008. Met Opera last staged the reboot Jan. 26, 2013.
Die Ägyptische Helena by German late Romantic and early modern composer Richard Strauss (June 11, 1864-Sept. 8, 1949) premiered Nov. 6, 1928. Wilhelm von Wymetal directed, with Lillian Gartner Palmedo’s costumes. After the premiere season, Met Opera did not perform Die Ägyptische Helena for 78 years. A new production debuted March 15, 2007. Die Ägyptische Helena has not been staged since the reboot’s seven performances.
La Cena delle Beffe by Italian composer Umberto Giordano (Aug. 28, 1867-Nov. 12, 1948) premiered Jan. 2, 1926. Samuel Thewman directed. Although Joseph is credited as designer, the Metropolitan Opera Archives Database notes one costume sketch signed by American designer Robert Edmond Jones (Dec. 12, 1887-Nov. 26, 1954). Giordano’s opera has not been staged since the 1926-1927 season.
Puccini’s Turandot premiered Nov. 16, 1926. Wilhelm von Wymetal directed. Gretel Urban and Italian artist Umberto Brunelleschi (June 21, 1879-Feb. 16, 1949) designed costumes. The premiere production’s last revival occurred in the 1929-1930 season.
The first reboot occurred three decades later, with English designer and photographer Cecil Beaton’s (Jan. 14, 1904-Jan. 18, 1980) designs. Met Opera’s most recent staging, in the 2017-2018 season, revived the second reboot. Italian film, opera and television director Franco Zeffirelli’s production and set designs debuted March 12, 1987.
La Campana Sommersa by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi (July 9, 1879-April 18, 1936) premiered Nov. 24, 1928, with the composer present. Wilhelm von Wymetal directed. Met Opera has not performed La Campana Sommersa since Dec. 20, 1929.
Jonny Spielt Auf by Austrian American composer Ernst Krenek (Aug. 23, 1900-Dec. 22, 1991) premiered Jan. 19, 1929. Wilhelm von Wymetal directed, with Lillian Gartner Palmedo’s costumes. Met Opera has not performed Krenek’s jazz-influenced opera since the premiere season.
Fra Gherardo by Italian composer and librettist Ildebrando Pizzetti (Sept. 20, 1880-Feb. 13, 1968) premiered March 21, 1929. Italian opera director Armando Agnini (July 11, 1884-March 27, 1960) directed. Met Opera has not performed Fra Gherardo since the premiere season.
Schwanda the Bagpiper by Czech American composer Jaromír Weinberger (Jan. 8, 1896-Aug. 8, 1967) premiered Nov. 7, 1931. German stage director Hanns Niedecken-Gebhard (Sept. 4, 1889-March 7, 1954) directed, with Lillian Gartner Palmedo’s costumes. Met Opera has not performed Weinberger’s best known opera since the premiere season.
Il Signor Bruschino by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini (Feb. 29, 1792-Nov. 13, 1868) premiered Dec. 9, 1932. Armando Agnini directed. Joseph shared set design credits with Joseph Novak. Met Opera has not performed Il Signor Bruschino since the premiere season.
Il Signor Bruschino marked Joseph Urban’s last U.S. premiere and also his last output as a Met Opera designer. He died of a heart attack July 10, 1933, while recuperating from major surgery in May. His burial site is Westchester County’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
The takeaways for Joseph Urban’s designs for 14 U.S. premieres at the Metropolitan Opera are that he collaborated with his costume designer daughter Gretel on three premieres and that two U.S. premiered operas (Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte, Puccini’s Turandot) endure in Met Opera’s active repertoire, with recent stagings in the 2017-2018 season.

Joseph Urban's prop design of a chest for Met Opera's U.S. premiere of Richard Strauss' Die Ägyptische Helena: Metropolitan Opera Archives Database

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to:
Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.
Image credits:
Joseph Urban's scenic design for Met Opera's U.S. premiere of Giacomo Puccini's La Rondine, Act III: Metropolitan Opera Archives Database @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/Imgs/RondineActIIISet.jpg
Joseph Urban's prop design of a chest for Met Opera's U.S. premiere of Richard Strauss' Die Ägyptische Helena: Metropolitan Opera Archives Database @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/Imgs/AgyptischeHelenaPropsRendering1.jpg

For further information:
“Debut: Gretel Urban.” MetOpera Database > 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
“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
Marriner, Derdriu. “Eugene Onegin Is the April 22, 2017, Metropolitan Opera Saturday Matinee Broadcast.” Earth and Space News. Monday, April 17, 2017.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2017/04/eugene-onegin-is-april-22-2017.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.” Monday, March 19, 2018.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2018/03/turandot-is-march-24-2018-met-opera.html
“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
“United States Premiere: Die Ägyptische Helena.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 100100 United States Premiere Die Ägyptische Helena {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/6/1928.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=100100
“United States Premiere: Fra Gherardo.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 101980 United States Premiere Fra Gherardo {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/21/1929.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=101980
“United States Premiere: Il Signor Bruschino.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 112240 United States Premiere Il Signor Bruschino {1} Elektra {2} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/9/1932.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=112240
“United States Premiere: Jonny Spielt Auf.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 101110 United States Premiere Jonny Spielt Auf {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/19/1929.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=101110
“United States Premiere: La Campana Sommersa.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 100330 United States Premiere In the presence of the composer La Campana Sommersa {1} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/24/1928.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=100330
“United States Premiere: La Rondine.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 98790 United States Premiere La Rondine {1} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/10/1928.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=98790
“United States Premiere: La Vida Breve.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 92670 United States Premieres La Vida Breve {1} Le Rossignol {1} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/6/1926.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=92670
“United States Premiere: Schwanda, the Bagpiper.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 109060 United States Premiere Schwanda, the Bagpiper {1} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/7/1931.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=109060
“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
“United States Premiere: Violanta.” 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
“United States Stage Premiere: Eugene Onegin.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 74580 United States Stage Premiere Eugene Onegin {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/24/1920.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=74580
“United States Stage Premiere: La Cena delle Beffe.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 91810 United States Premiere La Cena delle Beffe {1} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/2/1926.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=91810
“United States Stage Premiere: Saint Elisabeth.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 67620 United States Stage Premiere Saint Elisabeth {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/3/1918.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=67620>

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