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On April 22, 1972, Sir Rudolf Bing's tenure as general manager of the Metropolitan Opera came to a close with a gala concert featuring many of the foremost operatic voices of the day. Photographer Louis Melançon's famous full-stage photo captures the assembled Company during the evening's final ovation (above). The stage setting for the concert's closing segment was from Act II of the classic Robert O'Hearn-designed production of DER ROSENKAVALIER which was recently seen for the final time on the Met stage.
I had attended the final complete opera performance of the Bing régime on the afternoon of April 22nd: a stellar DON CARLO featuring Montserrat Caballe, Grace Bumbry, Franco Corelli, Sherrill Milnes, Cesare Siepi and John Macurdy, with deluxe casting in the smaller roles: Lucine Amara as the Celestial Voice, Frederica von Stade as Tebaldo, and Paul Plishka as the Friar. I tried desperately to wrangle a ticket for the evening's gala, but there were none to be begged, borrowed or stolen.
A hour-long TV special from the gala was aired by CBS and can be watched here on YouTube; all of the evening's participating singers are seen, though not all are actually heard in this very abbreviated film of the concert. The welcoming voice of Milton Cross and the hostess-with-the-mostess Risë Stevens make the telecast a real Met event.