John Alexander (October 21, 1923 – December 8, 1990) was an American operatic tenor who had a substantial career during the 1950s through the 1980s. He had a longstanding relationship with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, singing with that company every year between 1961 and 1987 for a total of 379 performances. He also periodically performed at the New York City Opera during his career and was a frequent presence at the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company during the late 1950s and 1960s. Although he spent most of his career in New York City, Alexander occasionally traveled to perform as a guest artist with many of the world's leading opera houses, both in the United States and Europe. He was also an active concert singer throughout his career.
While most of Alexander's career was spent in lyric roles from the Italian and French repertory, Alexander had enough heft in his voice to successfully tackle some of the lighter Heldentenor roles of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. Aside from a handful of these roles, however, his repertoire at the Metropolitan did not include heavier parts. Rather, he was known there for an expansive lyric repertoire that encompassed the works of Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, and Donizetti among others. His signature roles included Alfredo in La traviata , Arbace in Idomeneo , Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail , the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto , Edgardo from Lucia di Lammermoor , Ferrando in Così fan tutte , Hoffman in Les contes d'Hoffmann , Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly , Rodolfo in La bohème , and the title roles in Don Carlos and Faust .
Alexander was born and raised in Meridian, Mississippi. He attended the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, earning a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. Many years later, while still working regularly for the Metropolitan Opera, he returned to the conservatory as a member of the voice faculty.
In 1951 Alexander moved to New York City to begin studying voice further under Robert Weede and with the intent of pursuing a performance career. That same year he auditioned for and was accepted as a member of the Charles Wagner Opera Company, a touring company which traveled throughout North America. He traveled widely with the company during the Fall of 1951, notably portraying Alfredo in Giuseppe Verdi's La traviata opposite a young Beverly Sills as Violetta. In the spring of 1952 he made his first appearance with at an actual opera house as the title hero in Charles Gounod's Faust with Cincinnati Opera. The following fall he once again traveled with the Charles Wagner Opera Company, this time singing Don José in Bizet's Carmen opposite Sill's Micaëla. Over the next five years he appeared in several houses throughout the United States including the Baltimore Opera Company and the Houston Grand Opera.
In 1957 Alexander made his debut with the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company as Lieutenant Pinkerton in Puccini's Madama Butterfly opposite Dorothy Kirsten as Cio-Cio San. That same year he made his first appearance with the New York City Opera singing the role of Alfredo. The following year he returned to the New York City Opera to portray the role of Henry Morosus for the United States premiere of Richard Strauss's Die schweigsame Frau . He continued to perform periodically at the New York City Opera up through the 1970s, notably excelling as Walther in Wagner's Die Meistersinger and as Bacchus in Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos . In 1958 he created the role of Lucentio is the first staged performance of Vittorio Giannini's The Taming of the Shrew .
On February 10, 1958, Alexander portrayed the role of Rodolfo opposite Elaine Malbin's Mimì in Giacomo Puccini's La bohème for the very first opera performance given by the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company. He returned several more times for performances with that company, including portrayals of Vicomte Camille de Jolidon in Die lustige Witwe (1958), Lieutenant Pinkerton (1959, 1962, 1963), Sir Edgardo di Ravenswood in Lucia di Lammermoor (1960, 1961), Ferrando in Così fan tutte (1960), Alfredo (1961, 1963, 1972), Faust (1967), Gennaro in Lucrezia Borgia (1969), and Roberto, conte di Leicester in Maria Stuarda (1974).
In 1961 Alexander joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera where he sang regularly for the next 26 years. He made his first appearance on the Met stage as Ferrando in Così fan tutte on December 19, 1961 with Teresa Stich-Randall as Fiordiligi, Rosalind Elias as Dorabella, Theodor Uppman as Guglielmo, Roberta Peters as Despina, and Frank Guarrera as Don Alfonso. His other roles at the Met included Alfredo, Anatol in Barber's Vanessa , Arbace, Belmonte, Don Carlos, Cassio in Otello , Cavaradossi in Tosca , Des Grieux in Manon , Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut , the Duke of Mantua, Edgardo, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus , Elvino in La Sonnambula , Faust, Goffredo in Rinaldo , Grigory in Boris Godunov , Fernando in La favorita , Hoffmann, the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier , Kodanda in Menotti's The Last Savage , Lensky in Eugene Onegin , Lionel in Martha , the title role in Lohengrin , Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur , Narraboth in Strauss's Salome , Pinkerton, Pollione in Norma , Riccardo in Un ballo in maschera , Rodolfo in La bohème, Rodolfo in Luisa Miller , Roland in Esclarmonde , Tamino in The Magic Flute , Tito in La clemenza di Tito , Tonio in La Fille du Régiment , and Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg among others.
During his long and distinguished career at the Met, Alexander sang opposite many famous artists, including the Met debuts of Renata Scotto (Pinkerton to her Butterfly), Montserrat Caballé (Faust to her Marguerite) and, in the same night as Caballé, Sherrill Milnes' (who portrayed Valentin). His last performance at the Met was on October 5, 1987 portraying Bacchus opposite Jessye Norman's Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos .
Although Alexander worked mostly out of New York City he did occasionally travel to perform in other opera houses. In 1967 he made his debut with the San Francisco Opera as Julien in Gustave Charpentier's Louise . He returned to that company a few more times during his career, singing Rodolfo (1969), Pollione (1972), and Hoffmann (1987). Also in 1967, Alexander sang the role of Paul in Korngold's Die tote Stadt for his first performance with the Vienna Volksoper. The following year he sang the role of Rodolfo in La bohème at the Vienna State Opera. In 1970 he made his Royal Opera House at Covent Garden debut as Pollione and in 1973 he sang for the first time with the Opera Company of Boston as the title role in Verdi's Don Carlos . In 1975 he made his first appearance with the Opera Company of Philadelphia as Calaf in Turandot opposite Elinor Ross in the title role. He also performed in a few roles with the Berlin State Opera, the Bavarian State Opera, and the Cincinnati Opera.
Alexander sang relatively few performances outside of New York City, a conscious choice on his part. He chose to not travel in favor of having a stable life with his wife Sue and their daughter, Cindy. The family made their home on Long Island during the late 1950s through the early 1970s. At this point, Alexander joined the voice faculty at his alma mater in Cincinnati, Ohio. The family then relocated to Cincinnati while maintaining an apartment on the West Side of Manhattan for Alexander to use when he was in town for rehearsals and performances at the Met.
In 1990 Alexander died suddenly of a heart attack at the Temple Theater in Meridian, Mississippi, the city where he was born. He was 67 years of age, and still actively performing and teaching at the time of his death.
Alexander may be seen on such videos as Mozart's Idomeneo (also starring Luciano Pavarotti, in Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's production, 1982) and Donizetti's Roberto Devereux (with Beverly Sills and Susanne Marsee, in Tito Capobianco's production, 1975). His discography includes recordings of Bellini's Norma (with Dame Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne, 1964) and Donizetti's Anna Bolena (opposite Elena Souliotis, 1968–69). Additionally, VAI has released his 1967 performance, in New Orleans, of Massenet's Manon, with Caballé and Louis Quilico.
Aureliano Pertile was an Italian lyric-dramatic tenor. Many critics consider him one of the most exciting operatic artists of the inter-war period, and one of the most important tenors of the 20th century.
Adam Flowers is an American lyric tenor who is based in San Francisco, California. Flowers sings major lyric tenor roles in opera houses across the western United States.
Orville Harrold was an American operatic tenor and musical theatre actor. He began his career in 1906 as a performer in operettas in New York City, and was also seen during his early career in cabaret, musical theatre, and vaudeville performances. With the aid of Oscar Hammerstein I, he branched out into opera in 1910 as a leading tenor with Hammerstein's opera houses in New York City and Philadelphia. While his career from this point on primarily consisted of opera performances, he periodically returned to operetta and musical theatre throughout his career. He notably created the role of Captain Dick Warrington in the world premiere of Victor Herbert's operetta Naughty Marietta in November 1910.
Daniele Barioni is an Italian opera singer who had a prolific career during the 1950s through the 1970s. Early on in his career he rose to fame as a leading tenor at the Metropolitan Opera between 1956 and 1962. Afterwards he worked primarily in opera houses and concerts throughout the United States, although he did make numerous appearances in both Europe and South America as well. Barioni was particularly associated with the operas of Giacomo Puccini and the roles of Turiddu in Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana and Alfredo in Giuseppe Verdi's La traviata.
Enrico Di Giuseppe was a celebrated American operatic tenor who had an active performance career from the late 1950s through the 1990s. He spent most of his career performing in New York City, juggling concurrent performance contracts with both the New York City Opera (NYCO) and the Metropolitan Opera during the 1970s and 1980s. In the latter part of his career he was particularly active with the New York Grand Opera.
Gianni Raimondi was an Italian lyric tenor, particularly associated with the Italian repertory.
Giacinto Prandelli was an Italian operatic tenor, particularly associated with the Italian and French repertoires.
Enzo Mascherini was an Italian operatic baritone, one of the leading baritones of his generation.
Richard Leech is an American operatic tenor, recipient of the Richard Tucker Award in 1988, and particularly associated with lyric roles of the Italian and French repertories.
Chad Shelton is an American operatic tenor. Particularly associated with the Houston Grand Opera (HGO), Shelton has excelled in performances of contemporary American operas and in the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Giuseppe Verdi. He has appeared in numerous world premieres with the HGO including Laurie in Mark Adamo's Little Women (1998), Nico in Adamo's Lysistrata (2005), and Ulises in Daniel Catán's Salsipuedes: a Tale of Love, War and Anchovies (2004) among others. He also sang the role of Brigadier General Edward Porter Alexander in the world premiere of Philip Glass's Appomattox at the San Francisco Opera (2007).
The Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company was an American opera company located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that was active between 1958 and 1974. The company was led by a number of Artistic Directors during its history, beginning with Aurelio Fabiani. Other notable Artistic Directors include Julius Rudel and Anton Guadagno (1966–1972). The company produced between four and six of their own operas every year in addition to sponsoring numerous traveling productions from the New York City Opera. In 1975 the company merged with the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company but retained its original name. With the combined resources of both companies, the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company began producing higher quality productions with name artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Roberta Peters, Montserrat Montserrat Caballé, and others. For the bicentennial year 1976, the company commissioned famed opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti to create a new opera. The work, The Hero, premiered on June 1, 1976. In 1980, the company artistically reorganized to form the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
Giuliano Ciannella was an Italian operatic tenor who had a major international career from the mid-1970s through the late 1990s. He was notably a regular performer at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City from 1979 through 1986, the Lyric Opera of Chicago between 1982 and 1988, and at the Vienna State Opera from 1985 up until the end of his career. Ciannella mostly performed roles from the Italian repertory, particularly excelling in the operas of Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini.
Luigi Marini, was an Italian lyric tenor.
Michael Fabiano is an American operatic tenor. Born in Montclair, New Jersey, he has performed in leading opera houses throughout the world, including the San Francisco Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Canadian Opera Company, Teatro Real, and The Royal Opera among many others. Fabiano is the 2014 Richard Tucker Award winner and the 2014 Beverly Sills Artist Award winner, making him the first singer to win both awards in the same year.
Barry McCauley was an American operatic tenor. He sang leading roles with major opera companies throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Opera and the Paris Opera.
James Valenti is an American operatic tenor with an active international career specializing in leading roles in the Italian and French repertoire. Born and raised in New Jersey, in the United States, he is a graduate of West Virginia University and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Valenti made his professional debut in 2003 as Rodolfo in La bohème at the Rome Opera, and was the 2010 winner of the Richard Tucker Award.
Vyacheslav Michailovich Polozov nicknamed "Slava", is a Soviet-born opera singer, professor of voice, entrepreneur. He sang at many opera houses around the world, appearing in a variety of leading roles from lyric to dramatic repertoires in French, Italian, German and Russian. Laureate International Competitions. Meritorious Artist of the Byelorussian SSR.
David Pomeroy is a Canadian operatic tenor.
Mallory Elton Walker was an American operatic tenor and music educator who had an active international singing career in operas and concerts from the late 1950s until his death in 2014. His career was at its height during the 1960s and 1970s when he was busy with many important opera companies in the United States and had engagements in European opera houses. His career hit a slump in the early 1980s due to vocal difficulties, and afterwards his major engagements became less frequent. He taught on the voice faculty at the Boston Conservatory of Music and out of a private voice studio in Los Angeles.
Arthur Davies was a Welsh tenor who had an active international performance career from the 1970s through the 1990s. He performed leading roles with The Royal Opera in London, the Welsh National Opera, the Scottish Opera, and the English National Opera.