An online museum devoted to detective Charlie Chan
MOVIES: Charlie Chan at the Opera
Charlie Chan at the Opera
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Distributed: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, January 8, 1937
Copyright: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, December 5, 1936; LP7256
(and January 8, 1937; LP 7043)
Sound: Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Film: Black and white
Length: 7 reels, 6,175 feet
Running time: 66 or 68 minutes
Production Code Administration Certificate Number: 2796
Songs: “March Funebre,” “Ah, Romantic Love Dream,” “King and Country Call,”
“Carnival Marche,” and “Then Farewell” from the opera Carnival,
Music by Oscar Levant, Libretto by William Kernell, Orchestrations by Charles Maxwell
Source: Based on the character “Charlie Chan” created by Earl Derr Biggers
Associate Producer: John Stone
Director: H. Bruce Humberstone
Assistant Director: Sol Michaels
Screenplay: Scott Darling and Charles S. Belden
Story: Bess Meredyth
Photography: Lucien Androit
Art Direction: Duncan Cramer and Lewis Creber
Film Editor: Alex Troffey
Sound: George Leverett and Harry M. Leonard
Musical Direction: Samuel Kaylin
CAST (as credited):
Warner Oland: Charlie Chan
Boris Karloff: Gravelle
Keye Luke: Lee Chan
Charlotte Henry: Mademoiselle Kitty (also known as Kitty Gravelle)
Thomas Beck: Phil Childers
Margaret Irving: Madame Lilli Rochelle
Gregory Gaye: Enrico Barelli
Nedda Harrigan: Madame Anita Barelli
Frank Conroy: Mr. Whitley
Guy Usher: Inspector Regan
William Demarest: Sergeant Kelly
Maurice Cass: Mr. Arnold
Tom McGuire: Morris
UNCREDITED CAST (alphabetical):
William Bailey: Detective
Charles Bancroft: Opera Extra Soldier
John Bleifer: Orderly
Myrta Bonillas: Villager in Opera
Raymond Brown; Guard
Stanley Blystone: Police Officer with Rifle
Carita Crawford: Dancer in Opera
Patrick Cunning: Villager in Opera
Zari Elmassian: Madame Rochelle’s Singing Voice
Frank Fanning: Police Officer
Jim Farley: Detective
Adolph Faylauer: Opera Spectator
Larry Fisher: Police Officer
Benson Fong: Opera Extra Soldier
J.C. Fowler: Opera Spectator
Otto Fries: Innkeeper in Opera
Bud Geary: Police Officer
Milton Gowman: Villager in Opera
Herschel Graham: Villager in Opera
Julia Griffith: Opera Spectator
Cliff Herd: Stagehand
Charles Anthony Hughes: Ambulance Doctor
Selmer Jackson: Hudson, Los Angeles Bulletin Wire Photo Technician
Gladden James: Secretary
Jane Keckley: Second Wardrobe Mistress
Fred A. Kelsey: Dugan
Leonard Mellon: Villager in Opera
Tony Merlo: Villager in Opera
Dodo Newton: Barmaid in Opera
Eddie Parker: Police Officer
Richard Powell: Police Officer
Enrique de Rosas: Florist
Tony Roux: Villager in Opera
Dick Rush: Guard
Alexander Schoenberg: Prompter
Eddie Shubert: Guard
Lee Shumway: Sanitarium Guard
Mary Louise Smith: Villager in Opera
Harry Strang: Police Officer
Eddie Tamblyn: Call Boy
Marjorie Timm: Villager in Opera
Sam Tong: Opera Extra Soldier
Harland Tucker: Private Detective
Hilda Vaughn: Agnes
Emmett Vogan: Smitty, Chicago Sun Wire Photo Technician
Billy Wayne: Electirician
Tudor Williams: Boris Karloff’s Operatic Singing Voice
Joan Woodbury: Opera Dancer
At Rockland State Sanitarium, Gravelle, an opera singing amnesiac, regains some of his memory when he sees a newspaper article about prima donna Lilli Rochelle. He then overcomes a guard and escapes into the rainy night.
In Los Angeles, Inspector Regan asks Charlie Chan, who has just completed the “Race Track” case (see: Charlie Chan at the Race Track), to assist with this case. As they are in Regan’s office discussing the matter, Lilli Rochelle comes in, accompanied by her lover and fellow singer, Enrico Barelli, to report a threat that she will die that night. Even though Charlie and son Lee need to make the midnight boat for Honolulu, Chan agrees to be backstage at the opera that night, along with Sergeant Kelly, to investigate.
That evening, shortly before the opera is to begin, Phil Childers and his girlfriend Kitty slip in through the backstage entrance. They are turned away by Kelly as they try to explain to him that they need to see Mme. Lilli. As Chan and Regan arrive, Lilli’s husband Whitely and Enrico are arguing over Lilli.
Meanwhile, in the dressing room of Enrico’s wife Anita, Gravelle appears. Although she is terrified because he was presumed dead in a theater fire years ago, she agrees to keep his presence a secret while he carries out his plan of singing Enrico’s role on stage. Gravelle then menaces Enrico, who, along with Lilli, had locked him in the burning theater years ago. Soon, it is a masked Gravelle rather than Barelli who joins Lilli on stage for their duet. Lilli recognizes Gravelle’s voice and collapses after he leaves the stage.
After Whitely carries Lilli off, the others rush to Enrico’s room, only to find that he has been stabbed. While the others search for Gravelle, Phil enters Lilli’s room and finds that she is dead. At this moment, Whitely returns and has Childers arrested. When Chan questions Phil and Kitty, they tell him that Kitty is Lilli’s daughter from her previous marriage to Gravelle and that Lilli had refused to acknowledge Kitty in order to keep her past a secret. The young lovers were there to ask for Lillis permission to marry, as Kitty is underage. Gravelle, who did not recognize Kitty, is stunned as he overhears from a hiding place.
Later, as Phil goes to see Regan, leaving Kitty alone, Gravelle comes in. He gently questions her and plays a song on the piano, hoping that she will recognize the melody and remember him. Kitty does not remember him, and faints from fright. Chan enters, and, after Gravelle tells him about Lilli and Enrico’s attempt to kill him, Chan flatters him into singing on stage again that night.
At the conclusion of the opera, Chan arranges to have Anita sing Lilli’s role with Gravelle before an empty house. During the duet, which involves Gravelle’s character stabbing Anita’s character, Anita becomes so scared that she screams, prompting a police officer to shoot Gravelle.
A short time later, Chan demonstrates that Gravelle’s knife could not have been that which was used in the murders. He explains how Anita was the only one who had access to Enrico and Lilli when they were alone and unconscious, and that she was the only one who knew that Gravelle was there and could therefore attempt to frame him. Anita confesses that it was her jealousy that drove her to kill her unfaithful husband and his lover.
After Anita is taken away, Chan convinces Kitty to comfort Gravelle, and thereby help save his life. As a doctor suggests that the bullet that grazed Gravelle’s skull might even restore the rest of his lost memory, Lee runs in, stating that he has an important clue, to which his father replies, “Excellent clue, but like last rose of summer, too late.”
NOTES: The working title for this film was Murder in the Opera. The title card reads: “Twentieth Century-Fox presents Warner Oland vs. Boris Karloff in Charlie Chan at the Opera.” Although contemporary reviews call Margaret Irving’s character “Lucretia Barelli,” she is called “Anita Barelli” in the film. A Motion Picture Daily news item noted that the picture was banned in Germany for having “too many murders.” The Hollywood Reporter noted that public response to the film’s preview was so positive that Twentieth Century-Fox planned to up the production and advertising budgets for the Charlie Chan series, and that future films would see “Warner Oland co-starred with a top name opposite.” The first star the studio was said to be approaching to star with Oland was Peter Lorre. According to another Hollywood Reporter news item, this film marked the first time that a DeBrie camera, which was lighter and more quiet than other models, was used in the United States. According to modern sources, director H. Bruce Humberstone borrowed some of the sets from Café Metropole for this film. Oscar Levant, in his autobiographical writings, states that he was assigned to write an operatic sequence that would take advantage of a Mephistophelian costume that had been created for Lawrence Tibbett in a previous Twentieth Century-Fox film (presumably Under Your Spell). Levant also relates that the words for the opera were written originally in English by William Kernell and then translated into Italian by “studio linguists.” Benson Fong, who later portrayed Number Three Son, Tommy Chan, briefly appeared unbilled in this film as one of the opera extras (the third “soldier” from the left as they are first seen lined up). Baritone Tudor Williams provided Boris Karloff’s operatic singing voice.
Adapted from: AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE CATALOG – Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films, 1911-1960
CHARLIE CHAN’S APHORISMS:
Honorable father once say, “Politeness golden key that open many doors.”
Confucius say, “Luck happy combination of foolish accidents.”
Small things sometime tell large stories.
Roses in romance like tenor in opera – sing most persuasive love song.
Disloyalty of husband sometime ample provocation for revenge.
Sometime jewel found in ashes.
Dead hands cannot hide knife.
Humility only defense against rightful blame.
Voice from back seat sometime very disconcerting to driver.
Man who ride on merry-go-round often enough finally catch brass ring.
Very old Chinese wise man once say, “Madness twin brother of genius because each live in world created by own ego. One sometime mistaken for other.”
Old Chinese proverb say, “Hsing zhong kong zhu, yuan hsuan wu tu.” (When fear attack brain, tongue wave distress signal.)
Unwise officer who eat apple not yet ripe get official tummy ache.
Like last rose of summer, bloom too late.
OTHER WORTHY STATEMENTS:
(Inspector Regan [regarding Charlie Chan’s plans to return immediately to Honolulu]: “Can’t be separated from that family of yours, huh?”) Become habit, like murderer always return to scene of crime.
Humble servant very fortunate in stumbling on solution. (To Inspector Regan regarding the “Race Track case”)
Plum tree blossom many time since I hear silver voice of Madame Lilli in Honolulu. (To Lilli Rochelle)
Madame’s voice like monastery bell – when ringing, must attend. (To Lilli Rochelle)
Graceful as bamboo shoot, beautiful as blossom of water lily…Long time ago, use same description for honorable mother. (To Lee, who was about to describe his girlfriend, evidently in similar words)
Bouquet, like summer tourist on wrong train, evidently suffer switch in destination. (To Anita and Enrico Barelli regarding the latter claiming to have sent flowers to Anita for their anniversary)
(Sgt. Kelly [regarding a note handed to Charlie Chan by son Lee]: “What’s that, a laundry ticket?”) Much laundry, but all dirty.
(Sgt. Kelly [regarding Lee Chan]: “Say, is that your kid?”) Chip off ancient block.
Light fingers of number one son most alarming. (To Lee, regarding his uncanny ability to “lift” clues off of unsuspecting persons)
(Sgt. Kelly: “…I suppose it was his [Enrico Barelli] ghost that socked me.”) Perhaps substitute devil sock honorable colleague on chin.
(Inspector Regan: “The Commissioner will certainly make the fur fly if everything goes wrong.”) And bouquets fly if everything go right. (regarding Chan’s plan to let Gravelle perform in order to trap the murderer)
Case still wide open, like swinging gate. (To Sgt. Kelly, who thought the case was solved)
(Anita Barelli: “Is this some ridiculous attempt to save your face, Mr. Chan?” [answering Charlie Chan’s charge of murder]) Humble continence merely facing facts.
Variety, December 13, 1936
Chan’s interminable saga in this installment gets a shot in the arm which effectively dispels any chances of monotony. It is the creation of a co-feature role, with Boris Karloff to play it. Darling-Belden screenplay is concisely packed from Bess Merideth’s material, and Humberstone’s direction is fluent. Charlie Chan at the Opera thus is a strong item for the duals and, with a stage unit, say, could make the grade okay on its own.
Being set in an opera house, the action is more complicated than in previous Chan stories and serves as an additional befuddlement for the tyro sleuths in the audience. Backstage nooks and crannies furthermore provide the proper spook atmosphere for Karloff to flit around in, while Levant’s ‘Carnival’ is being rendered onstage.
Scenario on the whole took plenty of cognizance of Karloff and fully warrants his presence, aside from the marquee weight he may have. As a cross between a madman and an amnesia victim, Karloff plays a role right down his alley. And 20th doesn’t let the audience forget who he is. In one place there’s a remark to the effect, ‘Who do you think you are, Frankenstein?’
Oland’s role is without variation from his previous assignments, and he makes it in par. Keye Luke, as Chan’s son, does a nice job again. Voice and mannerisms are a pretty good match for Oland’s pseudo-Orientalism.
Supporting cast works well, with Margaret Irving as the diva who gets murdered, Nedda Harrigan as the menace, and William Demarest as a dumb cop, drawing the longest footage. Clues are fairly well concealed, except that the evil-doer is billed as Lucretia, which may be a partial give-away to those who connect the monnicker with Borgia history.
Photography and mounting are up to snuff, while the musical end, purely a sidelight, is adequate.
THE DATE OF CHARLIE CHAN’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE CASE: November 5, 1936 (Thursday)
DURATION: One day
LOCATION: Los Angeles, California
THE NAME OF THE SANITARIUM: Rockland State Sanitarium
THE NAME OF ONE OF THE TWO GUARDS PATROLING OUTSIDE OF ROCKLAND SANITARIUM: Joe
ACCORDING TO THE INTERN, THE LENGTH OF TIME THAT GRAVELLE HAD BEEN HOUSED AT ROCKLAND SANITARIUM: “…seven years.”
THE CAPTION ABOVE THE NEWSPAPER PHOTOGRAPH OF LILLI ROCHELLE AS SEEN BY GRAVELLE:
THE LOS ANGELES CHRONICLE HEADLINE AND STORY:
THE LOS ANGELES TELEGRAPH HEADLINE AND STORY:
THE LOS ANGELES STAR HEADLINE AND STORY:
THE SIGN ADVERTISING THE OPERA “CARNIVAL”:
THE NAME OF THE OPERA COMPANY: San Marco Opera Company
THE NAME OF THE OPERA PERFORMED BY THE SAN MARCO OPERA COMPANY: “Carnival”
THE PRIMA DONNA OF THE SAN MARCO OPERA COMPANY: Lilli Rochelle
THE LOCATION WHERE THE OPERA WAS TO BE PERFORMED: Civic Opera House
THE SCHEDULED PERFORMANCE DATES FOR THE OPERA: November 5, 6, 7 (1936)
BESIDES LILLI ROCHELLE, THE OTHER NAMES VISIBLE ON THE BILLBOARD ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE SAN MARCO OPERA COMPANY:
THE LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT CAR THAT RECEIVED THE RADIO MESSAGE: Car 17
THE MESSAGE RECEIVED BY CAR 17: “Man answering description of escaped maniac just seen at 16th and Hill.”
THE NAME OF THE OFFICER GIVING THE RADIO MESSAGE: Roberts
TWO DEROGATORY NAMES USED BY SGT. KELLY FOR CHARLIE CHAN: “Chop Suey” and later, “Egg Foo Yung”
THE TORN UP NEWSPAPER AS SEEN BY CHARLIE CHAN AT POLICE HEADQUARTERS (COMPARE WITH THE OTHER SEEN ABOVE):
THE SCHEDULED DEPARTURE TIME OF CHARLIE CHAN AND SON LEE’S BOAT FOR HONOLULU: Midnight
CHARLIE CHAN’S RECENTLY SOLVED CASE MENTIONED BY INSPECTOR REGAN: The “Race Track Case”
THE L.A.P.D. CASE NUMBER FOR THE ESCAPED MANIAC CASE: A-469-W
THE MODE FLORISTS CARD AND HAND WRITTEN MESSAGE THAT WAS SENT TO LILLI ROCHELLE:
THE BARITONE OF THE SAN MARCO OPERA COMPANY: Enrico Barelli
ACCORDING TO LILLI ROCHELLE, HER RELATIONSHIP TO ENRICO BARELLI: “…one of my dearest friends.”
THE NAME OF THE PRIVATE DETECTIVE HIRED BY WHITELY TO FOLLOW HIS WIFE, LILLI ROCHELLE: McGrath
THE FLORIST SHOP VISITED BY CHARLIE CHAN AND SON LEE: Mode Florist
LEE CHAN’S CHOICE OF FLOWERS FOR HIS GIRLFRIEND: “One dozen American Beauty roses.”
THE NAME OF LEE CHAN’S LOS ANGELES GIRLFRIEND: Miss Lotus Kwang Toy
MISS LOTUS KWANG TOY’S RESIDENCE: Belvedere Apartments
THE PRICE OF THE FLOWERS: $3.00
ACCORDING TO THE FLORIST, THE ORDER FOR ROSES PLACED BY ENRICO BARELLI: “He ordered three dozen the American Beauties for the Signora (Mrs. Barelli).”
THE NICKNAME OF THE STAGE DOOR MANAGER OF THE CIVIC OPERA HOUSE: “Pop”
THE OUTDATED CALENDAR ABOVE “POP’S” DESK: Close inspection will reveal tha the calendar is for the month of October 1934. Below October are smaller calendars for the months of September and November.
TIME SHOWN ON THE CLOCK NEAR “POP’S” DESK: 7:45 p.m.
THE PROBABLE OPENING CURTAIN TIME OF THE OPERA “CARNIVAL”: 8:00 p.m.
THE SECOND SOPRANO OF THE SAN MARCO OPERA COMPANY: Anita Barelli
THE FAMOUS MOVIE MONSTER MENTIONED BY MR. ARNOLD, THE STAGE MANAGER: Frankenstein (Frankenstein’s monster) (Mr. Arnold: “…this opera is going on tonight even if Frankenstein walks in!”)
BENSON FONG, FUTURE NUMBER THREE SON, TOMMY, AS SEEN THIRD FROM THE LEFT IN THE OPERA SOLDIER LINE-UP:
LILLI ROCHELLE’S DRESSING ROOM AT THE CIVIC OPERA HOUSE: The room with the star on the door.
ANITA BARELLI’S DRESSING ROOM AT THE CIVIC OPERA HOUSE: Room 2
ENRICO BARELLI’S DRESSING ROOM AT THE CIVIC OPERA HOUSE: Room 3
THE WEDDING ANNIVERSARY OF ENRICO AND ANITA BARELLI: November 5
THE NOTE, WRITTEN IN CHINESE CHARACTERS, HANDED TO CHARLIE CHAN BY SON LEE:
CHARLIE CHAN’S TRANSLATION OF LEE’S NOTE:
Somebody hiding in opera house.
Madame Lilli and husband in big
fight. Also have fingerprints you
ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN, THE IDENTITY OF THE ACTORS PORTRAYING THE SOLDIERS IN THE OPERA “CARNIVAL”: “Honorable fraternity brothers of worthy son – incognito.”
THE PERSONS FROM WHOM LEE CHAN LIFTED SOURCES OF FINGERPRINTS: Whitley, Mr. Arnold, and Anita Barelli
THE CHEMICALS USED BY CHARLIE CHAN TO BRING OUT THE WRITING ON THE BURNT FLORIST CARD: Hydrochloric acid and ferricyanide of potassium.
THE MESSAGE REVEALED BY CHARLIE CHAN ON THE BURNT FLORIST CARD:
THE CAUSE OF ENRICO BARELLI’S DEATH, ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN: “Stabbed through heart.”
THE NAME OF THE OFFICER SENT BY INSPECTOR REGAN TO GET THE CORONER: Freeley
THE NAME OF THE OFFICER ORDERED BY SGT. KELLY TO WATCH PHIL CHILDERS: Dugan
INSPECTOR REGAN’S ASSESSMENT OF LILLI ROCHELLE’S DEATH: “Stabbed, just like Barelli.”
THE TIME CLAIMED BY PHIL CHILDERS THAT HE HAD BEEN WITH LILLI ROCHELLE: “…about four or five o’clock”
THE TIME AS LILLI ROCHELLE WAS IN INSPECTOR REGAN’S OFFICE: 4:30 p.m.
KITTY’S STATEMENT ABOUT HER FATHER: “My father died in a theater fire when I was about four years old. He was an opera singer”
BASED ON AVAILABLE INFORMATION, KITTY’S PROBABLE YEAR OF BIRTH: 1919
THE LOCATION OF THE THEATER WHERE GRAVELLE WAS PRESUMED TO HAVE PERISHED IN A FIRE: Chicago, Illinois
THE DATE OF THE THEATER FIRE IN WHICH GRAVELLE HAD SEEMINGLY DIED: September 15, 1923
THE NEWSPAPER TELEPHONED BY LEE CHAN IN ORDER TO OBTAIN INFORMATION ON GRAVELLE: The Los Angeles Bulletin
THE TEXT OF THE TELETYPE MESSAGE SENT FROM THE LOS ANGELES BULLETIN TO THE CHICAGO SUN:
“CHICAGO SUN SEND PICTURE GRAVELLE LOST IN OPERA HOUSE FIRE SEPT. I5 1923 CHANDLER L.A. BULLETIN”
THE NAME OF THE PERSON FROM THE LOS ANGELES BULLETIN SENDING THE TELETYPE MESSAGE TO THE CHICAGO SUN: Chandler
THE NAME OF THE PERSON AT THE LOS ANGELES BULLETIN WHO RECEIVED THE WIRE PHOTO OF GRAVELLE SENT BY THE CHICAGO SUN: Hudson
THE NAME OF THE PERSON AT THE CHICAGO SUN WHO SENT THE WIRE PHOTO OF GRAVELLE TO THE LOS ANGELES BULLETIN: Smitty
THE PHOTOGRAPH OF GRAVELLE SENT FROM THE CHICAGO SUN TO THE LOS ANGELES BULLETIN VIA WIRE:
ACCORDING TO CHARLIE CHAN, THE AMOUNT OF TIME HE HAD LEFT TO CATCH THE MURDERER AND STILL MAKE THE MIDNIGHT BOAT FOR HONOLULU: “…thirty short minutes…”
aria – (1) A solo vocal piece with instrumental accompaniment, as in an opera. (2) An air; a melody.
Charlie Chan: “Much applause tonight after beautiful aria.”
baritone – A male singer or voice with a range higher than a bass and lower than a tenor.
Lilli Rochelle: “Enrico is the baritone of my company.”
bracelets – (Slang) Handcuffs.
Sgt. Kelly: “Listen, young fella, she’s lucky I haven’t got the bracelets on her.”
canary – (Slang; as used) A female singer.
Sgt. Kelly: (Derogatorily referering to Enrico Barelli) “I’ve got a personal grudge against that canary.”
chaise longue– (French) An elongated seat or couch with a support for the back at one end and a seat long enough to support the legs and feet.
Whitley: “I laid her on the chaise longue.”
chop suey – A Chinese-American dish consisting of small pieces of meat or chicken cooked with bean sprouts and other vegetables and served with rice.
Sgt. Kelly: (Derogatorily referering to Charlie Chan) “You haven’t called Chop Suey in on the case, have you, Chief?”
cold turkey– (Idiom)As used: A cold fish.
Sgt. Kelly: “I tell you, the dame is cold turkey.”
dame – (Slang) A woman.
Sgt. Kelly: “I tell you, the dame is cold turkey.”
dick – (Slang) A detective.
Sgt. Kelly: “If that Chinese dick knows where he is…”
egg foo yung (egg fu yung) – A Chinese omelet containing onions and celery and chopped meat or fish.
Sgt. Kelly: (Derogatorily referering to Charlie Chan) “Where’s Regan and his pal…Egg Foo Yung?”
ferricyanide of potassium (potassium ferricyanide) – red prussiate of potash; a dark, red, crystalline salt, K6(CN)12Fe2, consisting of the double cyanide of potassium and ferric iron. From it is derived the ferrous ferricyanate, Turnbull’s blue.
Used by Charlie Chan along with hydrochloric acid to bring out the writing on a burnt florist card.
firecracker – (Slang) A fiesty person, usually a woman.
Sgt. Kelley: “Who was that firecracker?”
gilded lily – (As used) One who gives an often deceptively attractive or improved appearance.
Charlie Chan: “Miss Lotus Kuang Toy evidently gilded lily.”
hams – (Slang) Performers who overact or exaggerate.
Sgt. Kelly: “None of you hams are leaving the theater until this thing is cleared up.”
hydrochloric acid – A clear, colorless, fuming, poisonous, highly acidic aqueous solution of hydrogen chloride, HCl, used as a chemical intermediate and in petroleum production, ore reduction, food processing, pickling, and metal cleaning. It is found in the stomach in dilute form.
Used by Charlie Chan along with ferrocyanide of potassium to bring out the writing on a burnt florist card.
Mephisto – The devil in the Faust legend to whom Faust sold his soul.
Gravelle: “The voice of Mephisto comes from the flames.”
overture – An instrumental composition intended especially as an introduction to an extended work, such as an opera or oratorio.
Mr. Arnold: “There’s the overture!”
prima donna – (1) The leading woman soloist in an opera company. (2) A temperamental, conceited person.
A poster advertising the San Marco Opera Company’s production of Carnival features prima donna Lilli Rochelle.
Puccini – (Giaccomo Puccini, 1858-1924) Italian operatic composer whose works include La Bohème (1896) and Madame Butterfly (1904).
Mr. Arnold: “For the sake of Puccini, Verdi, Wagner, and me, get on that stage!”
socked – To have been hit or struck forcefully; punched.
Charlie Chan at the Opera – Sgt. Kelly: “…I suppose it was his ghost that socked me!”
soup and fish – (Informal) A tuxedo or other men’s eveningwear.
Charlie Chan: “Please, do not need soup and fish.”
Teletype– Trademark name of a device that can send typed messages over telephone lines to a receiving device.
A Teletype machine was used as a means of instant communication between the Los Angeles Bulletin and the Chicago Sun.
Verdi – (Giuseppe Verdi,1813-1901) An Italian composer of operas, including La Traviata (1853), Aïda (1871), and Otello (1887). He is credited with raising Italian opera to its fullest artistic form.
Mr. Arnold: “For the sake of Puccini, Verdi, Wagner, and me, get on that stage!”
Wagner – (Richard Wagner,1813-1883) A German composer known especially for his romantic operas, often based on Germanic legends. Among his works are Tannhäuser (1845) and the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen (1853-1874).
Mr. Arnold: “For the sake of Puccini, Verdi, Wagner, and me, get on that stage!”
Wirephoto – A trademark used for a photograph electrically transmitted over telephone wires.
A Wirephoto image of Gravelle was sent from the Chigago Sun to the Los Angeles Bulletin.