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Datum objave: 24.08.2020

From the Archives, 1928: Near riot at opera singers' Sydney wedding

There were red faces, tears, and mutilated tophats when a crowd of 25,000 fans turned up to witness Toti Dal Monte marry Enzo de Muro at St Mary's Cathedral.

From the Archives, 1928: Near riot at opera singers' Sydney wedding

There were red faces, tears, and mutilated tophats when a crowd of 25,000 fans turned up to witness Toti Dal Monte marry Enzo de Muro at St Mary's Cathedral.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald on August 24, 1928
Spectacular Wedding. 25,000 PEOPLE IN THE STREETS.
Crush in the Cathedral.

Huge, adoring crowds saw Signorina Toti Dal Monte marry Signor Enzo de Muro - who as tenor of the Grand Opera Company is known as Signor de Muro Lomanto - at St. Mary's Cathedral yesterday.

Sydney has never enjoyed a more spectacular wedding.

Into a tempestuous, nightmare world of tophats, tears, tattered toilettes, red faces, mutilated millinery, collapsing people, and vast shrieking crowds. Signorina Toti Dal Monte, looking very small, and very white, and very nervous, and a million times more charming than ever, stepped from her car and searched for the steps of the Cathedral.

For one instant she glimpsed 25,000 heads, hats, and handkerchiefs fluttering and swirling down upon her; then she fled up the narrow carpet. In an ecstasy of abandon a man threw his bowler hat after her. A woman burst into tears. Everyone was very emotional, especially the little stout man with the top hat from which the bottom had been knocked. He was the most emotional of all, particularly when the policeman refused to admit him to the Cathedral, and an old lady, exasperated by the extensive area of his back, hit him several times over the head with a shoe she had removed for the purpose.

It would have been a delightful scene from an aeroplane, but for a bride swathed fragilely in satins and laces and blossoms it was upsetting.
If it were possible, Signor Enzo de Muro Lomanto, the hero of the act, felt even worse - as though, for example, he had just been asked to sing an opera in Chinese. He stood nervously among the flowers and the acolytes, looking down a dim Cathedral where thousands upon thousands of eyes twinkled upon him inquisitively.

The crowds fought for seats, trampling lustily over the attendants, their ties adrift, their collars twisted back to front, footmarks in the middle of their backs, and signs of struggle in their coiffure. It was what a 12-stone forward or a heavyweight wrestler would have called a great party. To anyone less physically dominating it was rather like endeavouring to paddle in Niagara.

But outside one felt like a feather in a volcano, or a gnat in a mangle, or Jonah in the whale, or anything very small and ineffective in the grip of titanic, obliterating forces. The crowd just gripped you, flung you up and over, gulped you down, and squeezed all the spirit out of you as adequately as a pile-driver might deal with a tube of tooth paste. It was awful. Women fainted on top of one, stood up and fainted again. Men sat on the spikes of the fence and felt relieved that at last they had discovered a comfortable retreat from the ordeal of fighting in that crowd.
They had been arriving since daybreak, these people. Yes, at 6 o'clock a few of them were there, secreting themselves in corners of the Cathedral under pretence of hearing early Mass. At 8 o'clock hundreds were giving the policemen trouble, and an hour later the attendants were beginning to realise what an enormous task they were going to have. Thousands battered against the barrier of policemen and reluctantly gave way to tram cars.

By eleven-thirty tens of thousands crowded the footpath and the roadway as far as Elizabeth-street.

One charming old person, rather hard of hearing, demanded a seat. The doorkeeper explained that seats were accessible only to the elect on whom benign Providence had bestowed a white ticket.

"Pickles?" she exclaimed, astonished, "What about pickles?"

"Ticket, madam, ticket. You must have a ticket."

She looked profoundly puzzled, turned for enlightenment to the policeman, and then
smiled. "Oh, a picnic. Yes, yes. Quite a picnic, isn't it?"

Time was pressing. The bridal party would soon arrive. The crowds were clamouring.
Ticket!" roared the attendant and the policeman and a photographer and a pressman and one or two of the public. "Ticket. A card. An invitation. A pass."

"I'm not," she said, indignantly. "Let me in."

They ejected her.

"Fancy that," she complained. "Wouldn't let me go in, and I'm always going to the operas. I won't again, the mean things."


Others had more reason to complain. People specially invited stood round the doors for an hour, wearing out their spirits and their heels, breaking out frequently into cold sweats of apprehension lest the affair should be over before they were admitted, and all the time drifting further and further from that sublime frame of mind appropriate to the occasion. As a matter of fact the arrangements were inadequate. Here, on the fringe of the crushing, clamouring, impatient crowd waited Hina Spani, Vera do Cristoff, Rossi Morelli, Browning Mummery, and other principals of the company who ought to have been inside; not to mention an assorted collection of the bride and bridegroom's friends, some children attached to the wedding party, prominent, exhausted citizens, and febrile pressmen.

And when at last they were hurled through the doors by the crush behind them they found no seats, though several hundreds had been reserved. Possibly the people who stayed behind at Mass had seized those and refused to move. For a few tortured moments attendants thought that tho bride would have to go to the altar over the bodies of the congregation packed along the aisle.

But at last she was safely in her place, and Dean Crowley was performing the ceremony. Then Father de V. Francesco, of Venice, celebrated the Nuptial Mass, and Signora Arangi Lombardi sang, and the congregation threw kisses to the bride, and she was out on the street again, in her car, and away.
But she had not shaken off her adoring audience yet. They charged upon her in a colossal, screaming flood which whirled the policemen along like moths in a monsoon and deposited them almost on the electric cables. In an instant they had torn down all the beautiful flowers that trailed around the car, the ribbons, and the decorations. Women young enough to be too shy and women old enough to know better crawled around the wheels, apparently endeavouring to souvenir the magneto or the sparking plugs. The chauffeur hastily reversed into a mounted traffic policeman, who hastily reversed into the cavaliers, who hastily reversed into the crowd which flung itself upon this last car and rode down the town.

It was just short of a riot.

Note: Multiple online sources (including Wikipedia) repeat the assertion that "...the wedding party created international headlines when it gave the Fascist salute on the cathedral steps". However, we could find no contemporary references to this detail in the newspapers of the time.

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