Music: 99 cent Opera

Last summer's musical surprise was the long run of paying opera at the big old New York Hippodrome three blocks from where the proud Metropolitan had been begging for its life. The Hippodrome seats were cheap (99¢ top). So was the quality of the performances. But listeners for the season topped 1,000,000. The impresario was Alfredo Salmaggi, a longhaired, high-strung Italian who taught the late Queen Margherita to play the mandolin, carries Caruso's silver-headed cane and specializes in Aïida with horses, elephants, camels.

This week Alfredo Salmaggi moved on to Philadelphia, thus ending in Manhattan a three-week war over 99¢ opera. At...

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