Singers From the Metropolitan Opera Record Their Powerful Voices Onto Rotating Wax Cylinders

Suzanna Phillips Wax Cylinder

With equipment borrowed from the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, New Jersey, singers Piotr Beczala and Susanna Phillips from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City faced a long black cone and recorded their powerful voices onto rotating wax cylinders, the earliest form of recording and reproducing sound. After performing, the singers listened back to the recordings, registering their surprise that the contraption actually worked.

Metropolitan Opera singers Piotr Beczala and Susanna Phillips, accompanied by Gerald Martin Moore, record arias on wax cylinder equipment that was used in the early days of recording around 1909. On location at the NYPL Sound Archives at Lincoln Center.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.