Music: Antique Voice

Greatest operatic tenor of the past century was tall, handsome, Polish-born Jean de Reszke, who retired in 1901. In the late 1890s, when Tenor de Reszke was at his peak, the phonograph was a scratchy-voiced toy. Said he: "Jean de Reszke will never be preserved on wax."

Jean de Reszke was preserved, nevertheless. While he sang his Tristans and Romeos on the Metropolitan Opera House stage, the Metropolitan's librarian, Lionel Mapleson, had been experimenting with a flimsy Edison cylinder machine, making squeaky little records for his own amusement. When he was through he had samples of most of the Metropolitan's glittering...

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