at the Metropolitan
It's important to note that movies and radio, while ascendant in 1924, had not yet displaced live performance as the preferred form of entertainment in big American cities. When we see Papa going to the opera almost as much as he goes to the movies, we should remember that, while he was a true opera lover, his frequent visits to the Met were probably less unusual than my own frequent visits to the Film Forum.
Those who crowded in with Papa to see Carmen on December 5th certainly got their money's worth. Though Irving Kolodin, in his The Story of the Metropolitan Opera, describes Ina Bourskaya as "rather dull of voice for leading roles," the New York Times found her a "gay and vivid" as well as an "animated and vital" Carmen. Then again, the reviewer's focus on her energy and appearance, as opposed to her voice, might be something of a veiled criticism, but I'm sure Papa didn't begrudge her the many curtain calls she enjoyed that night.
Opposite her as Don Jose was the great tenor, Giovanni Martinelli, who was a third of the way into a storied 33-year Met career. (Martinelli had been in the unenviable position of overlapping with Caruso, but he made the most of it. "Many tenors were called to the Met" in the Caruso years, wrote the New York Times in his obituary, "but no others were chosen to stay...Only Mr. Martinelli survived the days of Caruso's glory and emerged as an artist and personality in his own right.")
Here's a little snippet of Martinelli singing Don Jose (opposite Geraldine Ferrar) courtesy of YouTube:
And here's a clip of Martinelli singing La fleur que tu m'avais jetee from Carmen, this time from archive.org.
INA BOURSKAYA AS CARMEN.; Again an Animated and Colorful Heroine of Bizet's Opera. (The New York Times, December 5, 1924.)
Giovanni Martinelli, The Tenor, Is Dead; Giovanni Martinelli, Met Star 33 Years, Dies (The New York Times, February 3, 1969.)
The Story of Carmen at Metoperafamily.org