Four American Baritones of the Past
|Four American Baritones of the Past
|Tuesday, September 12, 2006
|Classical > Choro
|Giuseppe Verdi, Hanson, Umberto Giordano, Gruenberg, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Georges Bizet, Jules Massenet, Ambroise Thomas, Gioacchino Rossini
|Leonard Warren, Lawrence Tibbett, John Charles Thomas, Robert Merrill
|© Preiser Records
John Charles Thomas was born on 6 September 1891 in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. His father was a Methodist pastor. At first he wanted to be a doctor, but then he studied singing with Adelin Fermin at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore from 1909 to 1912. In 1912 he began singing operetta, and he soon became one of the most popular artists in this domain. Despite his successes, his goal was opera. In 1924 he appeared in a concert performance of the opera "Sadko" in New York's Carnegie Hall, and his stage debut as an opera singer took place on 3 March 1925 in Washington, D.C. in the role of Amonasro in Verdi's "Aida". He made his European debut at the Theatre de 1a Monnaie in Brussels as Herodes in Massenet's "Herodiade", remaining there until 1928. In these years he studied with the famous tenor Jean de Reszke and made guest appearances in Vienna and at the Covent Garden Opera in London. After returning to America, Thomas started giving concerts and guesting at the opera houses in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. In 1934 he was engaged by the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and made his debut on 2 February. as Germont-pere. Until 1943 he spent nine seasons at the Metropolitan, singing such parts as Rigoletto, Amonasro, Figaro in "The Barber of Seville" and in 1939 Athanael in Massenet's "Thais", with Helen Jepson in the title role. Guest appearances and concert tours made Thomas internationally known. After the Second World War he gave a large number of concerts and song recitals in North America, England, Germany, France and Italy. He was also one of the first singers to appear on the radio; he was in studios for countless broadcasts until 1950. Finally, he worked as a vocal pedagogue in Los Angeles and spent his declining years in Apple Valley, California, where he died onl3 December 1960. Lawrence Tibbett, the son of a sheriff, was born on 16 November 1896 in Bakersfield, California. He spent his early years in Los Angeles, served in the United States Navy in the First World War, and then did his vocal training with Basil Ruysdale in Los Angeles. He began singing concerts in 1921. In 1923 he continued his training with Frank La Forge in New York. In that year he was offered a contract by the Metropolitan Opera, where he made his debut in the small role of the Jesuit Lovitzki in "Boris Godunov". A week later he scored his first big success as Valentin in Gounod's "Faust". When he sang Ford in "Falstaff'' at the Metropolitan on 2 January 1925, the audience gave him a tumultuous ovation. He went on to have a brilliant career at the Met, which included several world premieres: "The King's Henchman" on 17 February 1927; "Peter Ibbetson" by Deerns Taylor on 7 February 1931; "Emperor Jones" by Gruenberg on 7 January 1933; and "Merry Mount" by Howard Hanson on 10 February 1934. In 1932 he had a triumph in the title role of "Simone Boccanegra" by Verdi. Tibbett remained a member of the Metropolitan company until 1950; in 27 seasons he sang a total of 396 performances of 50 different roles - plus a further 163 performances on the annual Metropolitan tours. He reduced the number of his appearances after encountering vocal problems in 1940, but he took part in the Metropolitan premiere of Benjamin Britten's "Peter Grimes" in 1948 and sang as a guest at the New Orleans Opera in 1949. Concerts and guest appearances took him to the centers of international musical life, to London and Paris, Vienna and Prague, and as far afield as Australia and New Zealand. He was heard in Budapest and Stockholm, in Bologna and Rome, at the opera houses in Chicago and San Francisco. In 1956 he appeared on New York's Broadway in the musical "Fanny". The films, in which he had his first role in 1930,...