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The Museum of Television & Radio To Screen the Rarely Seen NBC Opera Theatre Production of Salome

Thursday, April 8, 2004

New York, NY—The Museum of Television & Radio will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the acclaimed NBC Opera Theatre production of Salome with a screening of a rare copy of the ninety-minute 1954 program, fifty years to the day and time of its initial telecast. In addition to this special anniversary screening on Saturday, May 8, at 3:00 p.m., the Museum will also screen Salome from May 9 to May 23, Tuesdays to Sundays at 1:00 p.m. 

This television adaptation of the Richard Strauss masterpiece, which Howard Taubman of the New York Times praised as NBC Opera Theatre's "most daring venture," featured Elaine Malbin in the title role, Andrew McKinley as Herod, Lorna Sydney as Herodias, and Davis Cunningham as Narraboth. In an especially effective bit of dual casting—and an effort to bring dramatic intensity to the production—the role of Jochanaan (John the Baptist) was acted by John Cassavetes and sung off-camera by Norman Atkins, and the role of the Page was acted by the young Sal Mineo and sung by Carol Jones. The orchestra was conducted by NBC Opera Theatre artistic director Peter Herman Adler.

The special anniversary screening on May 8, 2004, will be followed by an interview with soprano Elaine Malbin and director Kirk Browning, moderated by George Jellinek of WQXR. Malbin starred in several NBC Opera Theatre productions, including Suor Angelica, Madama Butterfly, Pagliacci, La Traviata, Dialogues of the Carmelites, and The Trial of Rouen (in which she played Joan of Arc). Browning directed the landmark NBC Opera Theatre productions in the 1950s and 1960s and has been the television director of the PBS series Live from Lincoln Center since its inception in 1976.

Between 1950 and 1964 more than fifty operas were telecast on the landmark series NBC Opera Theatre (in 1957 renamed the NBC Opera Company). The Museum has thirty-five of these historic telecasts—which have never been released commercially—in its permanent collection, including the 1951 world premiere of Amahl and the Night Visitors, Scenes from "Billy Budd" with Theodor Uppman (1952), Tosca with Leontyne Price in her television debut (1955), and Boris Godunov with Giorgio Tozzi (1961). 

This event is cosponsored by Opera Index and the New York Singing Teachers' Association.

Tickets to the May 8 screening and Q&A, as well as the additional screenings, are included with suggested Museum admission: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under thirteen. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the event. 

The Museum of Television & Radio, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, is a nonprofit organization founded by William S. Paley to collect and preserve television and radio programs and advertisements and to make them available to the public. Since opening in 1976, the Museum has organized exhibitions, screening and listening series, seminars, and education classes to showcase its collection of over 100,000 television and radio programs and advertisements. Programs in the Museum's permanent collection are selected for their artistic, cultural, and historic significance.

The Museum of Television & Radio in New York, located at 25 West 52 Street in Manhattan, is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 6:00 p.m. and until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. The Museum of Television & Radio in California, located at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, is open Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. Both Museums are closed on New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen. Admission is free in Los Angeles. The public areas in both Museums are accessible to wheelchairs, and assisted listening devices are available. Programs are subject to change. You may call the Museum in New York at (212) 621-6800, or in Los Angeles at (310) 786-1000.  Visit the Museum's website at