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3. October 10, 2010

In New York

October 7, 2010: I flew into New York, reminded of how exhausting traveling can be. I'm always impressed by they way the airports herd the travelers through the process and spit them out at their final destination. Weary, I negotiated a good price with a taxi driver once I was bussed to Grand Central Station and got a ride to the Bronx where my Grandmother lives. As the cab drove up I could see the silhouette of my Grandmother's head in the third floor window but she didn't see me. It took me a while to figure out which apartment to buzz but I finally got in and felt a mild sense of relief. The look and smell of the apartment building was foul yet familiar. The lobby was filthy and unkempt and the stairs to the apartment were steep and many. Grandma welcomed me with kisses open arms, and I collapsed in her bed while I sleepily told her about my trip and the challenges that lay ahead.





Bidu's Metropolitan Debut


There is no doubt that New York was a major part of Bidu's life and one of her new beginnings. She came to this bustling metropolitan city to take in the sites and see the landmarks and places she had heard about so often by colleagues as well has her husband Guesspi Danise, who was a noted baritone at the Metropolitan Opera.  In interviews, Bidu tells the story of how she wanted a break from the rigorous European touring schedule and a chance to be a tourist on vacation. I can't help thinking perhaps the trip had a tiny spark of strategic hope. Her visit with Toscanini certainly hurled her into another playing field and down a road which would lead her to unimaginable opportunities and the introduction to a home she would know and love for over 50 years of her life. 

It was February 13, 1937 when Bidu made her debut at the Met in Massenet's Manon. Spanish soprano Lucrezia Bori, who was scheduled to sing the role of Manon, had decided to retire and the Met was looking for another soprano to take her place in the upcoming season. Again, Toscanini spoke up for Bidu. Toscanini suggested to the director, Mr. Johnson that they audition her, vouching for her impeccable French and quality of voice. There was a slight hesitation in letting her audition because of the awareness that Bidu had a smaller voice but they were convinced and allowed her to audition in front of a panel of directors which included the retired Bori.
When Bidu was accepted after her audition, she was given three performances of Manon including a Sunday afternoon radio broadcast. Her first performance on February 13th was to be with the Belgian tenor Rene Maison, who came down with an illness and called management the morning of her big day. Danise told management not to say anything to Bidu about the last minute replacement, saying it would be far too upsetting for her and there was nothing to be done anyway.
As Bidu sang the first act of Manon and was seated on a bench on stage, she looked over to the tenor walking on and was astonished to see a man she had never before seen in her life! Being the professional she was, Bidu pulled it together and sang beautifully with the replacement as if it didn't faze her. During the intermission the tenor came up to her, introduced himself and explained the circumstance of the situation. He and Bidu worked well together that night and her Met debut was a success.

PLACES TO DOCUMENT
Place # 1 - Metropolitan Opera - old photos (archives)

OTHER PHOTOS
Manon costume at the Met museum
Met debut photos
Bidu with Danise

COSTUMES
Manon

MUSIC
Gavotte - Massenet's Manon

NEW SUPPORTERS/BACKERS
Glenn Grieves (Supporter) Glenn has been a friend of mine since my days at the Palladium when I worked in the box office and he worked as a tech. We reconnected again when I told him I was coming to New York and he graciously allowed offered me place to stay a quiet place to work. He is a charismatic, lovely person and I'm proud to say he is now working in New York City as a development associate for MCC Theater.

Stephen Joel Jensen (Supporter/Editing Consultant) I met Stephen at Tarpon High School and lost track of him for years. A year before my 30th birthday I found him again and we decided and take a trip to Yellowstone National park for my 30th birthday. That trip made me realize that there was more to life than what I knew and Stephen witnessed my first thoughts of making a life change. He is good, honest and trustworthy. I'm very grateful to have him on my team.

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