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Norman Bel Geddes and his model for The Eternal Road
Gelatin silver print

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Norman Bel Geddes Database

Job 346, Eternal Road, The, 1935-1937

Summary: This dramatic spectacle, commissioned by New York’s Jewish community and written by Franz Werfel, premiered at the Manhattan Opera House in New York on 7 January 1937, running for 153 performances. It paired Bel Geddes’s setting, costume, and lighting designs with Max Reinhardt as director, and featured a musical score by the newly arrived émigré from Nazi Germany, Kurt Weill. The plot centers on a rabbi who in a time of medieval anti-Semitic activities recounts to his parishioners their great histories from the Old Testament.

The production was almost two years in the making. Geddes reconfigured nearly all of the front of the theater, designed all of the costumes and props for the more than 300 actors, and used a recorded score for the first time in theater history. His lighting, however, achieved the most spectacular effect. As the critic Gilbert Gabriel enthused in the New York American, Geddes’s “burly genius has a playground of sufficiently vast size here. And that he works with the theatre’s simple materials of carpentry, canvas, paint, people and streaming lights which burrow down towards the subway and upward towards the clouds must be hailed as the garnerings of genius.”

Hunter Code: DS 2
Hunter Guide: page 95

(click image for description)

Box/Location Folder Description
object a 1 Model (unhoused, 39 x 42 x 52 inches).
flat file b 1-3 Scene Renderings --- 3 Casein sketches.
flat file c 1-6 Costume Renderings --- 6 Costume charts.
flat file c 7 Costume Renderings --- Color sketch for coat of many colors.
flat file c 8 Costume Renderings --- Blueprint.
theater box 84 c 9-18 Costume Renderings --- 202 Sketches (Groups 0-9).
theater box 84 c 20-21 Costume Renderings --- 16 Photostats of sketches w/ color swatches and ms. notes (Groups 1-2).
flat file d 1-14 Drawings --- Details.
flat file e 1-9 Preliminary Sketches --- Settings and details.
theater box 84 e 10a-b Preliminary Sketches --- 50 Scenes, action diagrams. Set details.
flat file f 1-60 Drawings --- 61 Plans and elevations.
theater box 85 g 1 Production Record Book --- Correspondence NBG-Reinhardt-Weisgal Aug-Sep1935. Research.
theater box 85 g 2 Production Record Book --- Memos and correspondence Nov-Dec1935 and Jan-Feb1937 NBG-Weill, Stowkowski, Reinhardt, Weisgal. Light and sound research data.
theater box 85 g 3-4 Production Record Book --- Script w/ NBG notes May1935. Costume list, action diagrams.
theater box 85 g 5 Production Record Book --- Research.
theater box 86 g 6 Production Record Book --- Script, action charts, rehearsal notes scenes 2-3.
theater box 86 g 7 Production Record Book --- Script seventh rev. Correspondence NBG-Weisgal Jan1937. Financial statements Dec1935-Jan1936. Receipts Jan-May1937.
theater box 86 g 8 Production Record Book --- Script scenes 4-9.
theater box 86 g 9 Production Record Book --- Scene outline, character list, costume chart. Schedules, memos 1935.
theater box 86 g 10 Production Record Book --- Correspondence NBG-Reinhardt, Weisgal 1935-1937. Stage manager's reports, cue sheets, production photos 1937.
theater box 87 g 11 Production Record Book --- Rehearsal notes 1937. Clippings 1936-1937.
theater box 87 g 12 Production Record Book --- Program. Playbill. Clippings.
theater box 87 g 13 Production Record Book --- Title pages for bound production record book.
theater box 87 g 14 Production Record Book --- Photostat of contract 2Aug1935.
theater box 87 g 15-16 Production Record Book --- Action chart blanks. Color swatches.
theater box 87 g 17-18 Production Record Book --- Rehearsal prompt script.
theater box 88 g 19 Production Record Book --- Research for costumes and sound.
theater box 88 g 20 Production Record Book --- Costume chart. Lighting diagram. Setting requirements. Notes re building alterations.
theater box 88 g 21 Production Record Book --- Piano score by Weill w/ ms. notes, cuts.
theater box 88 g 22-24 Production Record Book --- Script. Schedules Aug-Dec1935.
theater box 88 g 25 Production Record Book --- Correspondence 1935-1936. Stage manager reports, schedules 1937.
theater box 88 g 26 Production Record Book --- Clippings 1937.
negative box 37 h 1 Photographs --- 3 Negatives of model photographs. [1 damaged]
negative box 37 h 2 Photographs --- 4 Negatives of production photographs. [2 damaged]
theater box 89 h 3 Production Record Book --- 2 Production prints [See h.18, 20a-c].
flat file h 4 Production Record Book --- Production photograph by Edward Steichen.
flat file h 5 Production Record Book --- Production photograph by Edward Steichen (#1826.11).
flat file h 6 Production Record Book --- Production photograph by Edward Steichen.
flat file h 7 Production Record Book --- Photograph of model (#12).
flat file h 8-10 Production Record Book --- 3 Production photographs.
flat file h 11 Production Record Book --- 3 Production photographs (matted).
flat file h 12 Production Record Book --- Production photograph.
flat file h 13b Production Record Book --- Photograph of model (#12).
flat file h 13a Production Record Book --- Production photograph by Edward Steichen.
flat file h 14 Production Record Book --- Production photograph by Edward Steichen.
flat file h 15 Production Record Book --- Production photograph by Edward Steichen (#1826.38).
flat file h 16a Production Record Book --- Copy of Steichen #1826.36 (mounted).
flat file h 16 Production Record Book --- Production photograph by Edward Steichen (#1826.36).
flat file h 17 Production Record Book --- Production photograph by Edward Steichen (#1826.15).
theater box 89 h 18 Production Record Book --- Production photographs.
flat file h 19 Production Record Book --- 4 Production photos by Gjon Mili.
theater box 89 h 20a-c Production Record Book --- Record Copy Photographs, some by Richard Tucker and Edward Steichen.
oversize box 21 i 1-8 Publicity --- Clippings.
flat file i 5 Publicity --- Clippings.
theater box 89 i 9-10 Publicity --- Clippings.
theater box 89 m 1 Program.
flat file n 1-2 Photostats --- Plans.
theater box 89 n 3a Photostats --- 5 sketches by Harry Horner, with ALS from Horner to NBG, 1936.
oversize box 21 n 3b Photostats --- 6 sketches by Harry Horner, signed and captioned by Horner.
flat file n 5-8 Photostats --- Model, stage plan, scenery detail, prop.
oversize box 21 n 9 Photostats --- Presentation book page.
theater box 89 n 10 Photostats --- Scene renderings.
theater box 90 o 1 Finances --- Contract.
theater box 90 q 1 Source material --- Setting.
theater box 90 q 2 Source material --- 4 Mechanical blueprints of Manhattan Opera House.
flat file r 1-27 Drawings --- Properties.
theater box 90 r 28-29 Drawings --- Property list and ca. 100 preliminary sketches.
theater box 90 t 1 Music --- Vocal piano score by Weill (presentation copy).
flat file u 1-4 Drawings --- Lighting.
flat file w 1-3 Drawings --- Superceded plans.
flat box 33 346.1 Costumes --- Brown tunic with gold trim.
flat box 33 346.2 Costumes --- White sai (a type of veil).
flat box 34 346.3 Costumes --- Brown and white striped aba (a loose, ankle-length open coat).