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A 1948 Opera-Oratorio ‘Oedipus Rex’

Juilliard students don masks as part of the opera chorus for a 1948 production of Oedipus Rex. 

 (Photo by Alton Taube, Juilliard Archives)

Almost 70 years ago this month, in 1948, Juilliard presented Oedipus Rex, an opera-oratorio in two acts after Sophocles by Stravinsky and Cocteau in an English translation of the Speaker’s text by E.E. Cummings. Frederick Kiesler (who was Juilliard’s director of scenic design, 1934-57) designed a geometric set, costumes, and masks for the production. Robert Tevrizian (’47, voice) and Robert Harmon (’49, voice) alternated in the role of Oedipus, and Salvador Tomas (’50, voice) was the Speaker. Edgar Schenkman (Diploma ’34, orchestral conducting; faculty 1940-48) was responsible for musical direction, Frederic Cohen (faculty 1947-63) served as stage director, and Ralph Hunter (’51, piano; faculty 1948-51) led the chorus, part of which is pictured here.

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Oedipus Rex was given in a double bill with Ibert’s Angélique, for which Kiesler designed the first of his acclaimed “space sets,” which enabled the singers on stage to change scenes themselves and allow for a continuous flow of action. Geraldine Hamburg (Diploma ’50, voice) and Marie Traficante (Diploma ’48, voice) performed the title role.

Readers, if you remember this production or can identify any of the chorus members pictured, let us know at (212) 799-5000, ext. 340, or journal@juilliard.edu. [Find out what readers told us here.]

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