Friday Flashback #108

The other day, alert “06880” reader Cheryl Wiener saw a PBS “Great Performances” documentary about the Metropolitan Opera House.

Memories flooded back of spring 1966. Coleytown Junior High School had just opened. Music teacher John Hanulik took Cheryl’s 9th grade class on a field trip to the Met.

They saw Puccini’s “The Girl of the Golden West,” at the new Lincoln Center location. It was so new, it was the very first performance at the new Metropolitan Opera House, before its official opening the following September.

That first test of the opera house with a live audience included a rifle shot — unexpected and scary, Wiener says.

The PBS documentary included a shot of Westport students walking across wooden platforms, into the new house:

Wiener went on to Staples High School. Hanulik did too — and a storied career there as orchestra director.

Wiener became a music educator too. Last June, she retired after many years with Connecticut Regional District 13.

“Needless to say,” she notes, “Westport music teachers had a great influence on me.”

11 responses to “Friday Flashback #108

  1. So very true about Westport’s excellent music educators! John Hanulik had me singing alto at Colleytown Jr. High because I could sing harmony. This continued through grade 10 in Sophomore Chorus and Girls’ Glee. That is, until Concert Choir auditions with George Weigel that spring. After one run through of The Star Spangled Banner, he informed me that I was a Soprano and had Mr. Hanulik immediately change my assigned part. I’ve been a happy first soprano ever since, still enjoying singing at age 65. LOVE WESTPORT MUSIC TEACHERS FOREVER!

  2. Happened to me also (but not at Staples). We were low on tenors, so I got placed with them!

  3. Hey Cheryl I remember that trip to the Met!! I also remember sitting next to one of the chaperones and she fell sound asleep. 😀

  4. Would have been Staples ’70? Mike Puterbaugh at far right in the picture?

  5. I love that everyone is dressed up.

  6. I want that plaid jacket! AND the hornrims! AND that skinny tie! Little did that kid think he’d be Mr. Cool, c. 2018, imo.

  7. Yup, that’s me. Over the years I’ve occasionally had a recollection of seeing an opera called “Girl from Golden West.” It seemed so weird that I doubted my own memory. (Whoa! Sounds familiar?) Thank you for making me feel better about my sanity. I do recognize Laurie Sugarman and Mike Puterbaugh. I think Courtney Shea is in the picture. I must tell you, though, that I went to Bedford Jr, so it can’t be a Coleytown thing. Anyway, thanks again.

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