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San Francisco Opera recordings 1932-50

The San Franciso Opera regularly broadcast parts of its performances from 1932 onwards (usually complete acts - rarely complete operas), but only a small number of them have survived. This page lists those extracts known to survive. Many of the stars of the Metropolitan Opera sang in San Francisco in October and November before heading to New York for the winter/spring, and possibly on to London for May/June and Buenos Aires for August. Probably the most famous of all the SFO recordings is act 2 of Die Walkure from 1936, the only recording to capture Lotte Lehmann and Kirsten Flagstad on stage together, but SFO also broadcast Martinelli in La Juive, Muzio in Tosca and Lawrence in Carmen, roles they never broadcast elsewhere. The sound is often rough, taken from air checks, but still worth hearing for the historic importance of these broadcasts.

If you have any questions about any of these recordings please email me


October 15, 1932 Tosca Act 1 Muzio, Borgioli, Gandolfi c.Merola (extensive commentary before and after the act detailing the opening of the new War Memorial Opera House)

October 30, 1936 La Juive Act 2 Rethberg, Martinelli c.Merola

November 13, 1936 Die Walkure Act 2 (last few mins cut off with commentary before and after) Flagstad, Schorr, Lehmann, Melchior c.Reiner

November 15, 1937 Tristan und Isolde Act 2 Flagstad, Melchior, Huehn c.Reiner

Octboer 7, 1938 Andrea Chenier Act 1 excerpt (15 mins) Gigli, Rethberg c.Merola

October 13, 1939 Manon Act 2 with commentary before and after Sayao, Schipa, Bonelli c.Merola

Octboer 20, 1939 Tristan und Isolde (excerpts - last 44 mins of Act 1 with commentary before and after) Flagstad, Melchior, Meisle c.MacArthur

October 24, 1939 Die Walkure Act 2 (last few mins cut off with commentary before and after) Flagstad, Destal, Melchior, Lawrence, c.MacArthur

November 3, 1939 Madama Butterfly Acts 1 and 2 Novtona, Bartlett, Cehanovsky c.Papi (reference recording made for audition purposes - commentary before act 1)

October 12, 1940 Le Nozze di Figaro Act 2 Pinza, Sayao, Rethberg c.Leinsdorf

October 23, 1940 Un Ballo in Maschera Act 2 excerpt (24 mins with commentary before and after) Bjorling, Rethberg, Bonelli c.Papi

October 25, 1940 Carmen Act 2 Lawrence, Jobin, Pinza c.Merola

October 8, 1944 Martha Act 3 excerpt Albanese, Landi c.Riedel (GAO169)

October 13, 1944 Salome Djanel, Jagel, Harshaw c.Sebastien

October 7, 1945 Pagliacci Act 1 Albanese, Jobin, c.Adler

October 12, 1945 Boris Gudonov Acts 3 and 4 excerpts total 60 mins Pinza, Jagel, c.Sebastien

October 18, 1945 Rosenkavalier Act 3 Lehmann, Stevens, Conner c.Sebastien

October 27, 1945 Aida Roman, Jagel, Petrov c.Merola

October 20, 1946 Forza del Destino excerpt Roman, Moscona, c.Merola