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Cinerama Productions Corp. vice-chairman Lowell Thomas introduces the ground-breaking new film process, called Cinerama, by recounting, in a small screen format and in black-and-white, a short history of graphic arts, from cave paintings to today. The Cinerama sequences begin with a roller-coaster ride, then scenes from a ballet at the La Scala Theatre in Milan, Italy are shown. Next, viewers see a view of Niagara Falls via helicopter, followed by a performance of "The Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah sung by the Long Island Choral Society. Images follow of a gondola floating down the canals of Venice and a Scottish pipe band parading on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. The Vienna Boys Choir perform "Tales from the Vienna Woods," from the operetta Die fledermaus by Johann Strauss II, in the garden of the Schoenbrunn Palace, then a crowd in a Madrid arena watches a bullfight. Spanish folk dances are presented. Actors then perform the finale of Act II of the Verdi opera Aida. After an intermission, Thomas narrates a demonstration of Cinerama's stereophonic sound system. The film's second act begins with sequences of motor-boating and water-skiing, filmed at Cypress Gardens, Florida. Finally, the "America the Beautiful" sequence shows spectacular aerial views of New York, Washington, Chicago, Illinois, the Grand Tetons and other American locations.