Jarmila Novotna -  Stunning voice and staggering looks made for audible gasps.
Jarmila Novotna – Stunning voice and staggering looks made for audible gasps.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – RCA Magic Key Program – Jarmila Novotna – April 30, 1939 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.

Continuing the series of legendary opera stars performing on the radio by way of the landmark RCA Magic Key Program in the 1930s, here is the American radio debut of Czech opera sensation Jarmila Novotna, from a broadcast made on April 30, 1939.

Because the program was cut short this particular week, owing to President Roosevelt’s upcoming address from the Opening of The New York World‘s Fair, Novotna only sings two pieces; Depuis le Jour from Charpentier’s Louise and a Czech Folk Song.

Both pieces are accompanied by the NBC Studio Orchestra conducted by Frank Black.

Novotna would become a regular with The Metropolitan Opera from the 1940-1956 seasons, and her stunning looks landed her in several movie roles, including starring opposite Montgomery Clift in the 1951 movie The Search. Before migrating, first to Vienna, and then to America just before the war, Novotna was a celebrated singer in numerous productions throughout Europe, including the 1937 Salzburg production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, conducted by Arturo Toscanini.

And of course, she had just signed a contract with RCA Victor – hence, the appearance on RCA’s radio program.

Here is that rare first appearance on American radio from April 30, 1939.


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