Monthly Archives: October 2017

EDMÉE FAVART, Soprano * 1879 or 23 November 1886, Paris + 29 October 1941, France;

Edmée Favart.jpg

Edmée Favart (1879 – 29 October 1941) was a French soprano who had a varied and major career in opera and opéra comique and left many recordings of songs from roles she performed on stage.

Life and career
Favart was born in Paris, the daughter of the baritone Edmond Favart and Zelie Weil, and appeared on stage with her father as a child in Algiers. She sang the Duchess in a 1904 revival of Le petit duc at the Théâtre des Variétés in Paris. In 1907 she joined the company of the Théâtre des Nouveautés in Brussels. By 1912, she had returned to Paris, and appeared at the Gaîté in La fille de Madame Angot and La fille du tambour-major. Favart made her debut at the Opéra-Comique on 20 June 1915 in Mignon (later singing the title role in the 1,500th performance of the opera at the theatre on 25 May 1919). She went on to sing Delphine (Cosi fan tutte), Clairette La fille de Madame Angot, Colette (La Basoche), Rose Friquet (Les dragons de Villars), Micaëla (Carmen), Cherubino (The marriage of Figaro), Rosenn (Le roi d’Ys), and Mimi (La boheme) at the Salle Favart.

Favart created leading roles in La petite fonctionnaire in 1921 and Ciboulette in 1923 ; she also appeared in revivals of Véronique, Madame l’archiduc and Le petit duc at the Théâtre Mogador.

She returned to the Opéra-Comique in 1925 for a single charity performance of Véronique.

She also sang in the premieres of Monsieur Dumollet (1922), Pépète (1925), Quand on est trois (1925), Mannequins (1925), Le Diable à Paris (1927), Une nuit au Louvre (1928), Boulard et ses filles (1929) and Sidonie Panache (1930).

Favart retired in 1935, as Mme Paul Gazagne. She died in Marseille.

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Posted by on October 29, 2017 in Uncategorized


WILLIAM WALKER, Baritone * 29 October 1931, Waco, Texas, United States + 10 April 2010, Fort Worth, Texas, United States;

William Sterling Walker (October 29, 1931 – April 10, 2010) was a baritone with the Metropolitan Opera (1962–1980) whose singing career included performances at the White House, at Carnegie Hall and other concert venues across North America and Europe, and some 60 appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. From 1991-2002, he produced opera as General Director of Fort Worth Opera in Fort Worth, Texas.

Early life
William Walker was born in Waco, Texas and moved with his family to Fort Worth at the age of 6, where his father eventually went to work for Consolidated Vultee, a predecessor of General Dynamics. Known as “Bill” to his family and friends, Walker began singing professionally at the age of 12 but secretly yearned to play baseball. After watching him strike out four times one night at a high school game, Walker’s father suggested that perhaps his son should think more seriously about being a singer. In 1949, upon graduation from Arlington Heights High School, Walker was awarded a vocal scholarship to Texas Christian University.

His studies were interrupted when he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to serve in the Korean War. During his time in Korea, he was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service. Upon his honorable discharge, Walker returned to Fort Worth, completed his bachelor’s in voice and graduated from Texas Christian University in 1956. In 1957, he married the former Marci Martin and they moved to New York City.

Singing career
In 1960, Walker made his Broadway debut as Tattoo in Wildcat, a musical comedy by N. Richard Nash, Cy Coleman, and Carolyn Leigh, starring Lucille Ball, directed by Herbert Ross and choreographed by Michael Kidd. He was listed in the program as “Bill Walker”. A frequent performer in summer stock during the 1960s, Walker sang in many performances with the St. Louis Municipal Opera, the Kansas City Starlight Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera in such works as Blossom Time, The Desert Song, Damn Yankees, and Carousel.

In 1962, Walker was a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and was offered a contract to join the Metropolitan Opera. His first roles at the Met were small ones, but subsequent exposure on television shows such as The Bell Telephone Hour, The Voice of Firestone, and most notably The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson—where Walker appeared some 60 times – led to a higher profile in his opera career.[3] During his 18 seasons there, Walker gave more than 360 performances at the Met and sang the role of Marcello in La bohème more than 30 times.

In 1965, Walker was featured in two new productions at the Met. He was selected to sing the role of Valentin in Faust co-starring Nicolai Gedda, Gabriella Tucci and Cesare Siepi, directed by Jean-Louis Barrault and conducted by Georges Prêtre. He also sang the role of Prince Yeletsky in a new English-language production of Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, conducted by Thomas Schippers. In 1972, Walker repeated the role in the first production of The Queen of Spades ever presented in its original Russian at the Met.

In 1975 when the Met toured Japan for the first time, Walker sang the role of Marcello in La bohème with Franco Corelli and Dorothy Kirsten. The following season, Walker stepped in for an ailing colleague and sang the role of Germont in La traviata for the first time at the Met, a role he had already sung at the Santa Fe Opera and in other regional productions. Critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote in The New York Times, “the best singing of the night came from Mr. Walker,” and Time magazine called his Germont “splendidly sung.”

Other roles at the Met included Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Lescaut in Manon Lescaut, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Ford in Falstaff, Escamillo in Carmen, the High Priest in Samson et Dalila, Peter in Hansel und Gretel, Schaunard in La bohème, Count Di Luna in Il trovatore, The Herald in Lohengrin, Michele in Il tabarro, Silvio in Pagliacci, Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale, and Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor

Walker’s career included performances at the White House: In 1967 during the Johnson administration he was the principal entertainer at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. During the Carter administration, he sang at a White House state dinner honoring Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of West Germany. In 1976, under the auspices of the U.S. State department, Walker was sent abroad to perform as a representative of the United States. In addition to recitals in Reykjavík, Iceland and at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm, Walker sang Germont in La traviata and Amonasro in Aida in both Warsaw and Łódź, in Poland.

From 1969 to 1976, Walker gave more than 250 solo recitals in the United States and Canada, performing classical operatic arias, art songs and American musical show stoppers, most memorably “Soliloquy” from Carousel and “Surrey With The Fringe On Top” from Oklahoma!. With a technique considered innovative at the time, Walker addressed his recital audiences directly from the stage, interspersing his songs with funny, often self-deprecating stories, making him a more accessible performer to his audiences then the stereotypically aloof classical artist.

Walker was a frequent soloist with many great American orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In the ’70s, Walker appeared twice at Carnegie Hall as the baritone soloist in performances of Mahler’s 8th Symphony with the Chicago Symphony, conducted by Sir Georg Solti.

Walker retired from singing in 1982. In 1980, he was named the Hearndon Distinguished Visiting Professor of Music at Texas Christian University and taught master classes in performance for several years. He also taught master classes as the Carol Kyle Distinguished Visiting Professor of Music at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas from 1980 to 1984.

General Director, Fort Worth Opera
In 1991, Walker returned to his hometown of Fort Worth to accept the position of General Director of the Fort Worth Opera, a small regional company “with a low budget, low profile and low community confidence.”

Even when he was still at the Met and working with world-class stage directors and designers, Walker believed that great singing was what made great opera. “‘That’s what opera’s all about, you know: let the opera singer sing and opera will flourish.'” When he began to produce opera in Fort Worth, Walker capitalized on this philosophy of “a singer’s opera” by recognizing the opportunity for Fort Worth Opera to be a showcase for up-and-coming vocal talent.

Focusing mostly on the standard Italian and French repertory, Walker led the company through “seven seasons of rising artistry and record audiences,” ultimately increasing season subscriptions, wiping out deficits, and bolstering the company’s annual budget and its endowment to what were then record levels. During Walker’s tenure, Fort Worth Opera joined other major Fort Worth performing arts organizations (Fort Worth Symphony, Texas Ballet Theater, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and Cliburn Concerts series) when they moved into their permanent home at Bass Performance Hall. Tickets for the 1998-1999 inaugural season of Fort Worth Opera at Bass Performance Hall were sold out.

In 1998, despite the successes achieved under Walker’s tenure, the executive committee of the larger Fort Worth Opera board of directors attempted to force Walker to retire, but their decision was overridden by a vote of the full board. “I’m the happiest man in America,” Walker said at the time. “This is the job I prepared for my whole life. I can’t wait to get started again.”[15] Walker’s contract was extended until 2002, when he retired and was named Executive Director Emeritus by the Fort Worth Opera board of directors.

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Posted by on October 29, 2017 in Baritones


CLARAMAE TURNER, Contralto * 28 October 1920, Dinuba, California, United States + 18 May 2013, Santa Rosa, California, United States;

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Claramae Turner (née Haas, October 28, 1920 – May 18, 2013) was an American operatic contralto, perhaps best known for her appearance in the film Carousel (1956), adapted from the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical of the same name.

Early life and career
Born in the high desert, outside Dinuba, California, to Reed Ross Haas and Anna Marie Helen Somma Haas, she began her career at the Bush Street Music Hall in San Francisco, where she sang the contralto leads in Gilbert and Sullivan operas; at the same time she joined the chorus of San Francisco Opera. She made her San Francisco Opera principal debut as The Voice in Les contes d’Hoffmann in 1945, and sang with the Metropolitan Opera from 1946 to 1950, appearing in Faust (as Marthe, opposite Raoul Jobin), Boris Godunov (as the Hôtesse, with Ezio Pinza), Aïda (as Amneris), Hänsel und Gretel (as Gertrud), Roméo et Juliette (as Gertrude, with Jussi Björling and Bidù Sayão), Le nozze di Figaro (as Marcellina), Siegfried (as Erda, with Lauritz Melchior and Astrid Varnay), Cavalleria rusticana (as Lucia), Il barbiere di Siviglia (as Berta, opposite Giuseppe Valdengo and Lily Pons), Peter Grimes (as Auntie), and Gianni Schicchi (as Zita).

Turner then sang with the New York City Opera from 1953 to 1969, in The Medium, Hänsel und Gretel (now as The Witch), Œdipus rex (as Jocasta, with Richard Cassilly, conducted by Leopold Stokowski), Suor Angelica (as the Zia Principessa, conducted by Julius Rudel), Carmen, Louise (as the Mère), The Ballad of Baby Doe (as Augusta, with Beverly Sills), Dialogues des Carmélites (as Madame de Croissy), Bomarzo (as Diana Orsini, opposite Salvador Novoa, directed by Tito Capobianco), Iolanthe (as the Queen of the Fairies), Lady Jane in Patience and The Mikado (as Katisha), among others.

She created the role of Madame Flora in Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Medium, in 1946 at its first performances at Columbia University. She reprised the role in an episode of Omnibus on television, conducted by Werner Torkanowsky, (1959). She also recorded the role of Ma Moss in Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land (opposite Joy Clements and Norman Treigle, conducted by the composer, 1965), Bomarzo (1967), and Gertrud in an English version of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, starring Risë Stevens and Nadine Conner (1947). This performance was one of the first Metropolitan Opera record albums of a complete opera ever released (by Columbia Masterworks Records). Miss Turner reprised the role on television in a performance on NBC Opera Theatre.

For radio, she sang the role of Ulrica in Arturo Toscanini’s 1954 legendary concert version of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, co-starring Herva Nelli, Jan Peerce, and Robert Merrill, in the Maestro’s final complete operatic performance. This performance was later released on LP and CD by RCA Victor.

In 1956, Turner appeared in her only film, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel (with Shirley Jones), based on the successful stage musical. In the film, she played the role of Nettie Fowler.

She sang the role of Nettie again in a Command Records studio cast recording of Carousel, starring Alfred Drake and Roberta Peters, recorded in 1962.

The song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was written for Turner, and it was she, not Tony Bennett, who originally sang it. However, it was Bennett who first recorded it.

In 1965 Turner sang the role of Ma Moss in an abridged recording of Aaron Copland’s opera The Tender Land with the New York Philharmonic conducted by the composer (Columbia records MS6814).

In 1970, Turner collaborated with Scott McKenzie, making a cameo appearance while McKenzie was performing at the Great American Music Hall. Together, they sang “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” as a duet. Fans praised Turner’s version of the song, prompting her to record her own version in 1971, making it her first, last, and only pop tune.

Albums have recently been released of Turner in complete live recordings of Verdi’s La forza del destino, starring Zinka Milanov, Mario del Monaco, and Leonard Warren, in a New Orleans performance conducted by Walter Herbert, and the Verdi Requiem, conducted by Guido Cantelli.

Turner retired in the 1980s and moved to a rural area, where she lived for the rest of her life. She died of natural causes on May 18, 2013, at her home in Santa Rosa, California. She was 92 years old. She is survived by her children, James and Clare, both 63, and several grandchildren.

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Image result for CLARAMAE TURNER

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Posted by on October 29, 2017 in Contraltos


GIULIO CRIMI, Tenor * 10 May 1885, Paternò + 29 October 1939, Rome;

Remembering GIULIO CRIMI, who died on this day in 1939.

Giulio Crimi (May 10, 1885 – October 29, 1939) was an Italian operatic tenor.

Crimi was born in Paternò, Italy. He studied in Catania with Adernò and made his debut in Palermo, as Manrico in Il trovatore, in 1910, later appearing in Treviso as Hagenbach in La Wally. He sang throughout Italy, Rome, Milan, etc., and created in Turin the role of Paolo in Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini in 1914. That same year saw his debut in London, where he sang the role of Avito in the local premiere of L’amore dei tre re, at the Royal Opera House.

In 1916, he made his debut at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, and at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. His Metropolitan Opera debut took place in November 1918, as Radames in Aida, the following month (on December 14) he created the roles of Luigi and Rinuccio in the Puccini operas Il tabarro and Gianni Schicchi. He remained at the Met until 1922, singing Rodolfo, Alfredo, Turiddu, Canio, Chénier, Milio.

Other notable roles included; des Grieux, Alvaro, Walther, Vasco, etc. He retired from the stage in 1927, and taught in Rome, where he died in 1939. Amongst his pupils were Gino Del Signore and Tito Gobbi.


Litrato ni Classica Revival.

Claudia Muzio as Giorgetta and Giulio Crimi as Luigi in the première of Il Tabarro. Metropolitan Opera, NYC, 1918

Litrato ni Classica Revival.

Left-right:  Tenore GIULIO CRIMI, Soprano ROSA PONSELLE and Baritone GIUSEPPE DANISE.

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Posted by on October 29, 2017 in Tenors


FRANCO CORELLI, Tenor * 8 April 1921, Ancona, Italy + 29 October 2003, Milan, Italy;

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Remembering FRANCO CORELLI, who died on this day in 2003.

Tenor with a voice of exceptional vibrancy who sang with Callas

One of the most exciting tenors of the 20th century, Franco Corelli, who has died aged 82, had a voice that was as handsome as his appearance. When I first heard him, in Tosca at Covent Garden, in 1957, I recall thinking – as he launched into Recondita armonia – that here, at last, was a tenor with trumpet-like timbre to penetrate into the furthermost corners of the house. Indeed, his was an instrument of Rolls-Royce magnificence, capable of engendering visceral thrills in an audience.
Despite the hype attached to more recent tenors, none has possessed a voice of Corelli’s exciting vibrancy. As one New York critic put it: “There is no tenor around with the vocal strength, endurance and sheer animal magnetism of Mr Corelli.” And this vocal quality was combined with a mind of considerable intelligence. He sang with great style, as the recordings he made in the 1950s and 1960s, when he was in his prime, confirm.

The son of a naval engineer from the Adriatic port of Ancona, Corelli first intended to follow his father’s trade. However, a musical friend heard him sing and encouraged him to study at the conservatoire down the coast at Pesaro, Rossini’s birthplace. After three months he seemed to be losing his high notes and, discouraged, gave up for a while. He then became determined to teach himself, with the help of recordings of his great predecessors; Caruso, Gigli and Lauri-Volpi. Soon those top notes returned.

He came into his own after winning a competition held at the Maggio musicale – the May Festival – in Florence. Following another triumph, this time at Spoleto, he made his debut there as Don José in Carmen in 1951. His success led to engagements throughout Italy in the following years, culminating with his debut at La Scala, opposite Callas, in Spontini’s La Vestale, in 1954. That was the start of his international career.

He appeared with Callas again, as Pollione to her Norma, in Rome in 1958 (soon after, they recorded Bellini’s opera together). In 1961, he made his debut at the Metropolitan in New York as Manrico in Il Trovatore, opposite Leontyne Price. Both then appeared in the legendary performances of Verdi’s opera under Karajan at the Salzburg Festival in 1962, a performance captured on a recently issued recording.

Other notable successes at La Scala were a rare revival of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots with Joan Sutherland, and in the same theatre an even more rarely heard work, Donizetti’s Poliuto, in which he made a thrilling impression in the role, as a recording of the occasion confirms.

Soon, he added Calaf in Turandot to his repertoire, singing regularly with Birgit Nilsson in the title role, both at the Metropolitan and Covent Garden. His account of Nessun dorma, superior to that of his successors, rang out in clarion-like tones. In New York, he and Nilsson were said to have “produced scenes unequalled in box-office memory”. One writer commented: “There is no tenor in modern times, Italian or otherwise, whose voice rings out with greater vibrancy, whose every tone carries with it the emotion of white heat. The sounds he makes, seemingly without effort, are dazzlingly bright, urgent and communicative.”

Corelli encompassed most of the major roles in Italian and French suitable for his dramatic tenor. In Verdi, his Ernani, Manrico, Don Alvaro (La Forza del Destino) and Radames (Aida) remain unsurpassed in modern times for their strong physicality, clear Italian diction and sheer tonal splendour. The only regret is that he never progressed to that Everest for the tenor in Verdi – Otello. All plans for him to sing the part came to nothing because he was wary of undertaking such a strenuous role.

At the Metropolitan, his 275 appearances over 10 years from 1961 included other roles in which he shone; notably the title part in Giordano’s Andrea Chénier, Enzo in Ponchielli’s La Gioconda, Maurizio in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, Canio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, and Gounod’s Romeo.

Corelli once commented: “I see notes in my dreams. I never rest because I am always trying to improve myself. If I have three months of absolute freedom, I use them to protect my technical instrument: without it, I am nothing.”

From 1971, he seems to have severely reduced his appearances, perhaps aware of waning powers as he approached 50. No matter: he had proved his capabilities in a blaze of glory over the previous 15 years and left a legacy of memories and recordings to stand his reputation in good stead. Indeed, it was perhaps only after he had departed the scene that his true worth was realised.

His wife, the singer Loretta Di Lelio, survives him.

· Franco Corelli, tenor, born April 8 1921; died October 29 2003

Franco Corelli, Poliuto (La Scala 7 dicembre 1960)

Franco Corelli in Poliuto

Litrato ni Gerhard Santos.

Franco Corelli as Pollione in Bellini’s “Norma”

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Image result for corelli pollione

Maria Callas -1964 Paris con Franco Corelli

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Posted by on October 29, 2017 in Uncategorized


FRIEDRICH WEIDEMANN, Baritone * 1 January 1871, Ratzeburg, + 30 January 1919, Vienna, Austria;

Friedrich Weidemann (1 January 1871 – 30 January 1919) was a German baritone who was a leading singer at the Vienna Court Opera (Wiener Hofoper) from 1903 until his death.

Weidemann was born in Ratzeburg in 1871.

He created the role of Kaspar in Alexander von Zemlinsky’s opera Es war einmal on 22 January 1900, alongside Selma Kurz, under Gustav Mahler’s baton. He came to the Vienna Court Opera in 1903, where he worked with Karl Weigl as vocal coach.[3]

He sang in a new production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold on 23 January 1905, under Mahler.

Six days later, on 29 January, he was the soloist in the premiere of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder. This concert also included the premiere performance of “Der Tamboursg’sell” from Des Knaben Wunderhorn.

His other roles at the Court Opera included the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni (December 1905), and Wotan in Die Walküre (1907, alongside Anna von Mildenburg).

On one occasion Bruno Walter engaged Weidemann for a performance of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde using tenor and baritone. Mahler had died in 1911 having never heard the work. He had specified on the score that the singers could be either tenor and contralto or tenor and baritone. However, Walter felt that tenor and baritone did not work as well as tenor and contralto, and he did not repeat the experiment.

Weidemann died in Vienna in 1919 at age 48.

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Posted by on October 29, 2017 in Baritones


ADOLF BASSERMANN, Tenor * 1 May 1866 Karlsruhe, † 1943;

He had been a well known stage actor and then opera singers, specialisimg in heroic tenor parts especially in (Wagner operas Lohengrin, Tanhauser, Tristan, Siegfred).

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Posted by on October 28, 2017 in Tenors

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