“Get ‘Em While They’re Young, Opera-Loving Danny Kaye Says”

The Pittsburgh Press – Apr. 24, 1975

By: Barbara Holsopple (Press TV – Radio Editor)

“I like to influence their minds when they’re young,” Danny Kaye explained with a wicked grin. “And I hope their parents are looking over their shoulders.”

Kaye was talking about his children’s special, a backstage view of the Metropolitan Opera airing Sunday at 5 p.m. on Channels 2 and 10.

The CBS hour is the first telecast of a Kaye “Look In At the Opera,” a children’s project he has been doing since 1972.

With the Met, some 400 strong, as the foil for his comedy, Kaye’s “Look In” shows have been termed by mezzo-soprano Regina Resnick “an operatic laugh-in.”

Kaye, a long-time lover of opera, hopes to dispel the art form’s image of high-brow entertainment that isn’t enjoyable to the masses.

He tells this story to illustrate his point:

“Back in 1940, when I was doing a show called ‘Let’s Face It’ in New York, I went to the opera and met someone I knew.

“The fellow said, ‘What are you doing here?’ as if a common comic from the stage could not possibly be interested in opera.

“I knew then that opera would have its image or be short-lived as a self-sustaining art form.”

Sunday’s show is a combination of fun and information, ranging from wardrobe and make-up to on-stage excerpts from “La Traviata” with Adriana Maliponte and Jose Carreras.

Kaye will produce weather at his command, using scenery from “Otello” to show two ships at sea buffeted by a Kaye-made storm and finally bursting into flames and sinking.

“Opera is not one performing art, but all of them combined,” Kaye insists. “I intend to prove my point with the ‘Look In.’”

The pied piper of children, as Kaye has been termed, is pleased with his reputation as a performer for the young.

“They call it magic,” he beams. “I don’t really know what that magic is. I’m delighted and proud, but I think it’s just being able to behave like a child with children.”

Noting “the phenomenal kind of relationship we have with ourselves,” Kaye adds. “The minute we achieve what is laughingly called maturity we are told to stop behaving like children.

“Children are honest, forthright and inquisitive. We shouldn’t behave that way?”

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