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From the Archives: Looking Back at a Curtis Opera World Premiere

View photos and correspondence from the 1937 world premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amelia Goes to the Ball

On April 1, 1937, the Curtis Institute of Music staged the world premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti’s (Composition ’33) Amelia Goes to the Ball at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Performed in a double bill with Darius Milhaud’s Le pauvre matelot, Menotti’s one-act opera buffa was the first of many successes for the Curtis alumnus, cementing his status as one of the great composers and librettists of the 20th century.

The Curtis Opera Theatre stages a new double bill this May, once again pairing a new one-act work by a Curtis alumnus with an established opera. Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Riders to the Sea—also premiered in 1937—is offered alongside Empty the House, a 2016 opera by Rene Orth (Composition ’16), which was first performed in the Curtis Opera Studio three years ago.

As the latest production opens, we look back to an earlier chapter of vocal studies at Curtis, lifting the curtain and taking a peek behind the scenes of an historic operatic premiere.