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Category Archives: Baritones

NELSON EDDY, Baritone * 29 June 1901, Providence, Rhode Island, United States + 06 March 1967, Palm Beach, Florida, United States;

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Nelson Eddy was a formally trained baritone who is most often remembered for his movie partnership with singing actress Jeanette MacDonald, an association largely played out on the sound stages at MGM. Nonetheless, Eddy was a fine singer in his own right, with established credentials gained in legitimate opera, operetta, and recital before he ever appeared in the movies. In his spare time, Eddy was also a painter and sculptor, and before he decided to pursue singing as a full-time occupation, was interested in journalism and graphic arts.

Born in Providence, RI, Nelson Eddy was, by his own admission, raised as a pampered “mama’s boy.” His singing in the local church choir gained notice, and when Eddy’s mother relocated to Philadelphia in 1917, Eddy began to divide his time working at a local newspaper and taking lessons from legendary singer David Bispham. Bispham was by this time old and ill, and died in 1921; Eddy finished his vocal training with teachers Eduardo Lippe and William W. Vilonat. Eddy started out his singing career in Philadelphia with semi-professional groups singing light opera and Gilbert & Sullivan, and this led to his joining the cast of the Philadelphia Civic Opera, making his professional debut as Tonio in I Pagliacci on December 11, 1924. He stayed with the company through its dissolution as a result of the Wall Street stock market crash of October 1929, minus a trip to Europe for more vocal study that finished in 1927. Also in 1927, Eddy began his long association with radio, a medium that would greatly help to enhance his reputation.

When the curtain ran down on the Philadelphia Civic Opera, Eddy landed a spot performing with the Philadelphia Grand Opera, beginning with the 1931-1932 season. Interestingly, Eddy’s first role with this company was as the Drum Major in Alban Berg’s Wozzeck. Eddy also began to tour out of town, giving recital concerts in New York and elsewhere, generally to excellent reviews. While in Hollywood in 1933, Eddy also appeared in walk-on parts in a couple of films, as he was known for his boyish good looks. Within a couple of years, Eddy was getting contract offers to play in the movies, and in 1935 he decided to close out his career as an opera singer, appearing for the last time on the opera stage as Amonasro in a production of Verdi’s Aïda at the San Francisco Opera. Eddy would never appear at the Metropolitan Opera in a regular production, but he would go into the movies as an A-list player. For some reason, Eddy’s activity as a commercial recording artist didn’t begin until this time, although earlier recordings of his singing going back to 1932 have been found in radio sources.

For his first major film role, Eddy was paired with an actress he’d met and briefly dated about a year earlier, Jeanette MacDonald. MacDonald was an experienced screen player, and Eddy frequently credited her afterward for helping him survive in their first production together, Naughty Marietta (1935). This film, based on the Victor Herbert operetta, was a runaway success as the MacDonald-Eddy team had a chemistry that clicked with audiences. This chemistry carried them through seven more operetta films through 1942. Not everyone shared the public’s infatuation with Nelson Eddy; M-G-M studio executive Louis B. Mayer hated him, and the feeling was mutual. Mayer hoped to sabotage Eddy’s celebrity by putting him in outfits and settings that made him look ridiculous. Unfortunately for Mayer, Eddy’s fans couldn’t get enough of him, although this did help give rise to the ill-informed critical notion of Eddy as a “wooden” actor who couldn’t make it on his own.

The MacDonald-Eddy partnership in the movies ended with the film I Married an Angel, and though Eddy attempted to pitch projects featuring the pair to other studios, no one was buying. In 1942, Eddy left MGM and joined the OSS, working as an intelligence agent under the pretext of conducting a singing tour of the Middle East. Eddy returned from his tour of duty only to discover that the wind had gone out of the sails of his film career, and his last film was a Republic Western, Northwest Outpost (1947). Although Eddy could still find work on radio for a time, by the early ’50s he was in a funk and not working. To change that, Eddy found a new partner in singer Gayle Sherwood and began to entertain on the nightclub circuit, rather than in the recital hall — by that time Eddy had lost his self-confidence and didn’t think he was “good enough” to return to opera. Eddy, however, was good enough to appear with Sherwood on a TV production of The Desert Song in 1955. When in the following year Jeanette MacDonald joined him for a special TV appearance, it attracted hordes of fan mail. In 1957, Eddy and MacDonald worked together once again, recording an LP for RCA Victor entitled Favorites in Stereo. The record sold more than a million copies, but it proved a last hurrah for both artists. Jeanette MacDonald was mostly bed-ridden with heart trouble for the last years of her life, and died in 1965 at age 61. On March 5, 1967, Eddy told an interviewer that he planned to “sing until I drop” — and he did, of a stroke, later than night. Nelson Eddy was 65 years of age.

By the time he died, Nelson Eddy was already the butt of a great deal of ridicule, cast about by a cynical society that viewed operetta itself as a hopelessly outdated form of entertainment. By the turn of the 21st century however, an entire cult has grown up around the MacDonald-Eddy (or “Mac-Eddy”) phenomenon. Fans contend that there was a personal relationship between Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald that continued on an intermittent basis for most of their lives, though the two married others and never acknowledged their mutual affection publicly. Some say this is a myth, but it has helped to keep Nelson Eddy in the public eye at a time when many of his more “legendary” contemporaries among baritones, such as Lawrence Tibbett and John Charles Thomas, are all but completely forgotten. Eddy may not have thought himself good enough to sing at the Met, but the energy and excitement that he brings to performances such as his 1940 recording of Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre, his broadcast work, and his duets with MacDonald are all ample evidence of his gifts. The fact that the popularity of Nelson Eddy continues to grow nearly four decades after his death is something that speaks for itself.

Artist Biography by Uncle Dave Lewis

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Nelson’s early years were spent at various locations in the Providence metropolitan area including Olneyville, Edgewood and Pawtucket. He is seen here, left to right, at six months, six years and as a choirboy.

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Nelson Eddy (perched on bass drum), 1909

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Posted by on June 29, 2018 in Baritones

 

BARRY MCDANIEL, Baritone * 18 October 1930, Lyndon, Kansas + 18 June 2018, Berlin;

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Barry McDaniel (born October 18, 1930 in Lyndon, Kansas) is an American operatic baritone who spent his career almost exclusively in Germany. He was also a celebrated concert singer and recitalist.

Biography and development
McDaniel was born to musical parents (a vaudeville tenor-turned-storekeeper and a music teacher) who soon became aware of his talent; from the age of nine he took systematic lessons in singing, piano and percussion and enjoyed considerable local popularity as a boy soprano soloist in churches and private concerts. When his voice changed from soprano to baritone, he studied voice first at the University of Kansas, and from 1950 at the Juilliard School of Music in New York as a student of the famous baritone and voice teacher Mack Harrell. After graduating from Juilliard with honors, he was among the first young singers to go to Germany on a Fulbright scholarship in 1953. He studied with Alfred Paulus and Hermann Reutter at the Stuttgart Music Conservatory, working on his already extensive repertoire of German and French art song and making his first professional appearances as a recitalist. Hermann Reutter – a renowned composer in his own right – was to become one of his favorite accompanists throughout his career. After a first contract with the opera of Mainz (1954 – 1955), he had to put his budding operatic career on hold for two years to serve his military service in the U.S. Army; from 1957 to 1958 he was under contract with the Stuttgart State Opera, and from 1959 at the opera of Karlsruhe. It was there that in autumn 1961 Egon Seefehlner, the deputy director and talent scout of the newly reopened Deutsche Oper Berlin, heard him in a performance and recruited him for his opera.

McDaniel remained under contract with the Deutsche Oper from 1962 till 1999, appearing in productions of some of Germany’s most distinguished stage directors such as Gustav Sellner, Götz Friedrich or Günther Rennert, in an ensemble that included names like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elisabeth Grümmer, Josef Greindl, Ernst Haefliger, James King, Pilar Lorengar and Edith Mathis. His stage repertoire of 98 roles encompassed Gluck and Mozart, Italian Bel canto and Richard Strauss as well as contemporary opera (many of these parts he performed for the first time on stage).

He displayed remarkable versatility as an oratorio singer and recitalist, with compositions running the gamut from Baroque to Contemporary. His focus in sacred music was on Johann Sebastian Bach (cantatas, Christ in both the St Matthew Passion and the St John Passion) and Georg Philipp Telemann, with art song it was on Franz Schubert’s great song cycles, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Hugo Wolf. But he was also a frequent performer of French Mélodies, e.g. by Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel or Francis Poulenc, and something of a specialist of contemporary scores by composers such as Aribert Reimann – his other long-standing musical partner, Hermann Reutter, Anton Webern, Günter Bialas, Luigi Dallapiccola, Carl Orff, and many others.

In addition to his more than 2,100 stage and concert performances in Berlin, he gave frequent guest performances and recitals e.g. in Vienna, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich (he appeared regularly at the Munich Opera Festival for 11 years), Geneva, Amsterdam, Mexico and Japan. In 1964 he sang Wolfram in Tannhäuser at the Bayreuth Festival. In 1967, he performed the vocal part in the premiere of Wilhelm Killmayer’s song cycle Tre Canti di Leopardi in Munich, conducted by Reinhard Peters. He appeared as the male lead in the premiere of Aribert Reimann’s opera Melusine at the Schwetzingen Festival of 1971. In 1972 he made his debut as Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande at the New York Metropolitan Opera. In addition to these live appearances (3400 in total), McDaniel made between 1954 and 1984 hundreds of recordings of art songs, sacred music and opera repertoire for various radio stations, and starred in TV productions of operas and operettas in the 1960s and 1970s.

In 1970 he was awarded the title of ”Berliner Kammersänger” by the Senate of Berlin.

In the late 1980s, McDaniel began to cut back on his opera and concert performances and finally retired in 1999, after a series of solo concerts dedicated to the popular songs of his native country. He lives in Berlin.

Operatic roles (selection)
C.W. Gluck Orest in Iphigenie auf Tauris
W.A. Mozart Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Nardo in La finta giardiniera, Allazim in Zaide
L.v.Beethoven First Prisoner in Fidelio
G. Donizetti Malatesta in Don Pasquale
D. Cimarosa Count Robinson in Il matrimonio segreto
G. Rossini Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Selim and Poet in Il Turco in Italia, Dandini in La Cenerentola
A. Lortzing Count Eberbach in Der Wildschütz, Tsar in Zar und Zimmermann
R. Leoncavallo Silvio in Pagliacci
R. Wagner Wolfram in Tannhäuser, Melot in Tristan und Isolde
G. Puccini Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Ping in Turandot
R. Strauss Olivier in Capriccio, Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos, Barber in Die schweigsame Frau
C. Debussy Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande
F. Poulenc Husband in Les mamelles de Tirésias
R. Sessions Cuauhtemoc in Montezuma (world premiere in Berlin 1964)
H.W. Henze Secretary in Der junge Lord (world premiere in Berlin 1965)
I. Yun Title role in The Dream of Liu-Tung (world premiere at the Akademie der Künste Berlin 1965)
A. Reimann Count Lusignan in Melusine (world premiere at the Schwetzingen Festival 1971)
Voice and recordings
McDaniel’s voice was a lyric baritone with a range of 2½ octaves (from a low F in the St John Passion to a high A in Pelléas et Mélisande), a remarkable vocal technique and breath control (he was able to sing the 9-bar melisma in the opening phrase of the Kreuzstabkantate BWV 56 in one breath), and a striking beauty of tone. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians praises his “mellifluous voice” as well as “a fine sense of line and an acute understanding and projection of the text”. The renowned weekly paper Die Zeit commented on his part in Melusine in 1971: “Such poetic vocal expression, such lucid operatic lyricism is unequalled today, and who could give it a more beguiling voice than Barry McDaniel.” Over the years the voice gained in nuances and depth of expression but never lost its youthful, lyrical character, and McDaniel always avoided straying beyond the limits of his Fach, e.g. to heavy Wagner or Italian Verismo parts.

McDaniel’s recordings span his entire repertoire and all phases of his career. Some of them are commercially available: cantatas and oratorios by Johann Sebastian Bach, operas by Mozart, Strauss, Weill and Henze and works of contemporary church music (many of which he was the first and only to commit to record). Although his commercial recording career as a song performer was hampered by the overwhelming competition, on a limited market, from his two great German contemporaries Hermann Prey and particularly Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, he recorded the Winterreise twice (1972 and 1985) for commercial labels and sang a vast number of art songs for nearly all West German public radio stations, the Swiss radio and the BBC. There exists also a 1972 live recording from the Metropolitan Opera which documents his Pelléas – one of his greatest operatic roles, and hailed by the distinguished critic Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt in 1963 as “a performance of perfection”.

Barry McDaniel has passed away at the age of 87 on June 18, 2018.

 

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Posted by on June 21, 2018 in Baritones

 

INGVAR WIXELL, Baritone * 07 May 1931, Luleå, Sweden + 08 October 2011, Malmö Municipality, Sweden;

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Swedish baritone Ingvar Wixell engaged in a lengthy career that spanned from 1955 all the way to 2003.

Born on May 7, 1931, in Lulea, Sweden, he studied at the Stockholm Academy of Music, making professional debuts in 1952 in Galve and 1955 in Stockholm, where he would become a member of the Royal Swedish Opera until 1967.

Then came an international career that saw him debut in the UK, Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where he would be a member for 30 years. He also appeared at Salzburg and the Bayreuth Festival in 1971.

His final performance came in 2004 in “Ariadne Auf Naxos” and he passed away in his native country on Oct. 8, 2011.

Signature Role

Wixell was well-known for his immersion in the Italian repertoire, dominating operas by Rossini, Mozart, and Verdi. He was especially recognized for his interpretations in the Verdi baritone roles, though his most famous is undeniably Rigoletto.

The baritone sang the role in his Metropolitan Opera debut and sang it 10 times with the company. His interpretation was renowned for its clarity of dictation and his manner with the text.

“What gave Mr. Wixell’s singing its distinction was his awareness of the text,” stated New York Times critic Raymond Ericson. “His clear enunciation and concern for words charged the vocal line with vitality.”

His performance of the role is immortalized in a filmed version by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle that stars Edita Gruberova and Luciano Pavarotti.

Biography and Photo credit: OPERAWIRE

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2018 in Baritones

 

HANS VON MILDE, Baritone * 13 April 1821, Petronell-Carnuntum, Austria + 10 December 1899, Weimar, Germany;

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Hans Feodor von Milde (13 April 1821 – 10 December 1899, Weimar) was an Austrian operatic baritone and the husband of soprano Rosa von Milde-Agthe. He sang for almost four decades at the opera house in Weimar where he particularly excelled in the works of Richard Wagner.[1] For many years, Milde sang under the direction of Franz Liszt, notably creating the role of Telramund in the world premiere of Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin under his baton. He sang in several other notable premieres, including singing the role of the High Priest in the first stage performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila in 1877.

Biography
Milde was born in Petronell, near Vienna, the son of an administrator to Prince Gusztáv Batthyány. He initially planned to study law in Vienna but ultimately ended up studying singing under Franz Hauser and later under the younger Manuel García in Paris. In 1845 he began his opera career at the Staatskapelle Weimar where he remained as a member of the company for his entire career under a lifetime contract. He developed a friendship, both professionally and personally, with Franz Liszt who led the opera performances there from 1848-1858.[2] He notably sang Telramund in the world premiere of Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin in 1850 under Liszt’s baton. He sang several other Wagner roles with Liszt, including the title role in The Flying Dutchman, Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde.[1]

In 1851 Milde married soprano Rosa Agthe, with whom he had shared the stage many times. They had two sons Franz von Milde (1855–1929) and Rudolf von Milde (1859–1927), both of whom became successful opera singers. In 1852 Milde portrayed Fieramosca in the premiere of Liszt’s revised version of Hector Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini and his wife sang the role of Teresa. The couple also notably sang in the world premieres of Heinrich Dorn’s Die Nibelungen on 22 January 1854, Franz Schubert’s Alfonso und Estrella on 24 June 1854, Peter Cornelius’s Der Barbier von Bagdad on 15 December 1858 and Cornelius’s Der Cid in 1865.[2] Hans also sang the High Priest in the first stage performance of Samson et Dalila, at Weimar (1877).[1]

Both Hans and his wife retired from the opera stage in Weimer in 1884 and they both began working as singing teachers. Their son Franz published a biography about his parents (Ein ideales Künstlerehepaar, Rosa und Feodor von Milde. Ihre Kunst und ihre Zei) in 1918. Music historian Carlo Droste also wrote a book on the von Milde family (Die Familie von Milde) which was published in 1907.

HansFeodorVonMilde1857

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2018 in Baritones

 

THEO BAYLÉ, Baritone * 29 May 1912, Laren, Noord-Holland + 30 Apr 1971, Laren Municipality, Noord-Holland, Netherlands;

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Dutch opera singer, a baritone who made his stage debut as a concert singer in the early 1930s. He and his wife had two children. He died in Kampen, Netherlands, on April 30, 1971.

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Posted by on May 30, 2018 in Baritones

 

KARL MANTZIUS, Baritone * 20 February 1860, Copenhagen, Denmark + 17 May 1921, Frederiksberg, Denmark;

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Karl Mantzius (20 February 1860 – 17 May 1921) was a Danish actor, stage and film director, theatre scholar, and operatic baritone.

Life and career:
Mantzius was born in Copenhagen, the son of the actor Kristian Mantzius. At first he played small roles in amateur comedy plays at the Court Theatre in Copenhagen, including ‘Vielgeschrey’ in Den Stundesløse by Ludvig Holberg, which brought him so much success that the theatre manager Edvard Fallesen advised him to become an actor.

He made his debut at the Royal Danish Theatre on 1 September 1883 as Jerome in Erasmus Montanus and became a regular presence at the theatre as both an actor and director. His later roles included Dr. Stern in En mand gik ned fra Jerusalem, Lieutenant von Buddinge in Jens Christian Hostrup’s Gjenboerne and Falstaff in Henry IV. Although primarily a stage actor, he also appeared in two operas at the Royal Danish Theatre—as Beckmesser in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and as Jeronimus in the 1906 world premiere of Carl Nielsen’s Maskarade. His last performance at the Royal Theatre was as Uncle Peter in Det gamle Hjem on 28 April 1921, less than a month before his death in Frederiksberg at the age of 61.[ Like his father, he was buried at the Frederiksberg Ældre Kirkegård.

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Posted by on May 16, 2018 in Baritones

 

RICHARD TORIGI, Baritone * 30 October 1917, Brooklyn, New York + 06 April 2010, Sebastopol, California.

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Richard Torigi (October 30, 1917 – April 6, 2010) was an American baritone and voice teacher. He had an active singing career in operas, concerts, and musicals from the 1940s through the 1980s. While still performing, he embarked on a second successful career as a voice teacher which led to teaching positions at a variety of institutions, including the Juilliard School, the Eastman School of Music, and the Academy of Vocal Arts.

Life and career:
Born with the name Santo Tortorigi in Brooklyn, Torigi was the son of Italian immigrants to the United States. He studied singing in New York with Eleanor McClellan who was also the teacher of Eileen Farrell. In 1942 he made his Broadway debut as a member of the ensemble in the revival of The Merry Widow, and was heard later that year in the revival of The New Moon. In 1947 he made his professional opera debut with the Rochester Opera as Escamillo in Georges Bizet’s Carmen. He then toured the United States with the San Carlo Opera Company in the late 1940s and in 1950 singing the role of Marcello in Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème. In the Spring of 1951 he performed the role of Figaro in The Barber of Seville in Los Angeles and with both the Cincinnati Zoo Opera and the St. Louis Municipal Opera.

In 1951 Torigi made his debut with the New York City Opera (NYCO) as Silvio in Pagliacci. He performed regularly at the NYCO for the next 18 years; notably singing in the company premieres of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Consul (1952, John Sorel) and Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (1955, Malatesta). Other roles Torigi sang at the NYCO included Marcello, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, and Germont in La traviata among others. His final performance with the company was as Silvio de Narni in Alberto Ginastera’s Bomarzo in October 1969 (which had been recorded in 1967). He had previously created that role in the world premiere of Bomarzo at the Washington National Opera in 1967.

Torigi was also active on Broadway and with several other American opera companies during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1955 he made his debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Schaunard in La bohème. In 1956 he was an alternate for Robert Weede as Tony in the original Broadway production of Frank Loesser’s The Most Happy Fella. He later portrayed the role of Tony in the show’s first National Tour.

After retiring from performance, Torigi worked as a vocal coach and voice teacher. He held teaching posts at a variety of institutions, including Juilliard, Eastman, and the AVA. One of his students was musician and voice actor Barry Carl. He retired from teaching in 2003. He died in Sebastopol, California in 2010 at the age of 92.

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Posted by on May 16, 2018 in Baritones

 
 
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