Kurt Baum (March 15, 1908 – December 27, 1989) was an Austria-Hungary born American operatic tenor. He is best remembered for his 25 seasons spent with the Metropolitan Opera, between 1941 and 1966.
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Born ethnic German-Jewish in Prague on March 15, 1908, Kurt Baum attended high school in Cologne, Germany where his father did business and attended medical school at the University of Prague. Robust and athletic, Baum was at one time the amateur heavyweight boxing champion of Czechoslovakia and member of Max Schmeling's Sports Club in Cologne.
Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the 14th largest city in the European Union and the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of 2.6 million. The city has a temperate climate, with warm summers and chilly winters.
Cologne is the largest city of Germany's most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and its 1 million+ (2016) inhabitants make it the fourth most populous city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich. The largest city on the Rhine, it is also the most populous city both of the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region, which is Germany's largest and one of Europe's major metropolitan areas, and of the Rhineland. Centred on the left bank of the Rhine, Cologne is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) southeast of North Rhine-Westphalia's capital of Düsseldorf and 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of Bonn. It is the largest city in the Central Franconian and Ripuarian dialect areas.
Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.
Baum never considered a career in music until a friend urged him to study music after hearing him sing a German drinking song at a party. In 1933, he dropped out of medical school and began attending the Music Academy of Berlin where he studied for less than a year. In 1933 Baum won first prize at the Vienna International Singing Competition, and his operatic début came in the same year in Zurich in Zemlinsky's Der Kreidekreis . Baum spent his early year performing lyric roles at Zurich and dramatic roles at Deutsches Theater, and after furthering his studies with Eduardo Gabin in Milan and the faculty of Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia he toured the major theatres of Europe including Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Monte Carlo, and Salzburg. In 1939, Baum escaped the war threatening Czechoslovakia by migrating to Paris, and accepted a 3-year contract with the Chicago Lyric Opera. He made his debut there as Radames in Verdi's Aida .
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
A drinking song is a song sung while drinking alcohol. Most drinking songs are folk songs or commercium songs, and may be varied from person to person and region to region, in both the lyrics and in the music.
Alexander Zemlinsky or Alexander von Zemlinsky was an Austrian composer, conductor, and teacher.
Baum's debut with the Metropolitan Opera, which became his artistic home, came in November 1941 as the Italian singer in Der Rosenkavalier . Baum's roaring spinto voice easily reach the high-D flat in the Rosenkavalier Italian singer aria, in which he had express permission (via a letter) from the composer to interpolate the note. He appeared in his first major role at the Met, Don Alvaro, in January 1943. In 1952, Baum performed Radames in London at the behest of Queen Elizabeth II shortly after her coronation. Baum remained on the Met's full-time roster until the 1965-1966 season, appearing there for the last time as Radames at the Old Met's Farewell Gala in April 1966. His repertoire included cornerstone spinto roles such as Don Alvaro, Radames, Cavaradossi, Manrico, Lohengrin, Walther von Stolzing, Don José, Canio, Samson, Des Grieux, Turiddu, Enzo, Pollione, and Andrea Chénier, which he played beside such illustrious colleagues such as Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Zinka Milanov, Eleanor Steber and Risë Stevens. He won renown especially for his heroic voice, which can otherwise turn metallic over a performance, reliable technique and an amazing top register, which was lauded for its strength and virility.
Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59, is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It is loosely adapted from the novel Les amours du chevalier de Faublas by Louvet de Couvrai and Molière's comedy Monsieur de Pourceaugnac. It was first performed at the Königliches Opernhaus in Dresden on 26 January 1911 under the direction of Max Reinhardt, Ernst von Schuch conducting. Until the premiere the working title was Ochs auf Lerchenau.
La forza del destino is an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on a Spanish drama, Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino (1835), by Ángel de Saavedra, 3rd Duke of Rivas, with a scene adapted from Friedrich Schiller's Wallensteins Lager. It was first performed in the Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre of Saint Petersburg, Russia, on 10 November 1862 O.S..
Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms.
Baum became an American citizen and spent later years in New York City, where after the death of his wife he could often be found walking his dog around Central Park. He also wrote several treatises on preservation of the voice and singing well in old age. Baum died in New York on December 27, 1989 due to unspecified causes, leaving no immediate survivors.
The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.
Central Park is an urban park in Manhattan, New York City. It is located between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, roughly bounded by Fifth Avenue on the east, Central Park West on the west, Central Park South on the south, and Central Park North on the north. Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States, with 40 million visitors in 2013, and one of the most filmed locations in the world. In terms of area, Central Park is the fifth largest park in New York City, covering 843 acres (341 ha).
Recordings include the Lohengrin Bridal scene with Helen Traubel from 1945 which finds him in an ardent, heroic mood, underpinned by his characteristically strident technique.Several of his live performances as Pollione, Radames and Manrico beside Maria Callas in their 1950 Mexico tour were especially noted for the high degree of excitement generated, though he never sang at anything less than full volume.
Helen Francesca Traubel was an American opera and concert singer. A dramatic soprano, she was best known for her Wagnerian roles, especially those of Brünnhilde and Isolde.
Maria Callas, Commendatore OMRI was an American-born Greek soprano. She was one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century. Many critics praised her bel canto technique, wide-ranging voice and dramatic interpretations. Her repertoire ranged from classical opera seria to the bel canto operas of Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini and further, to the works of Verdi and Puccini; and, in her early career, to the music dramas of Wagner. Her musical and dramatic talents led to her being hailed as La Divina.
Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.
Christa Ludwig is a retired German dramatic mezzo-soprano, distinguished for her performances of opera, Lieder, oratorio, and other major religious works like masses and passions, and solos contained in symphonic literature. Her career spanned from the late 1940s until the early 1990s. She is widely recognised as one of the most significant and distinguished singers of the 20th century, "with a voice of exquisite richness and, when needed breathtaking amplitude."
Mario Del Monaco was an Italian operatic tenor.
Franco Corelli was an Italian tenor who had a major international opera career between 1951 and 1976. Associated in particular with the spinto and dramatic tenor roles of the Italian repertory, he was celebrated universally for his powerhouse voice, electrifying top notes, clear timbre, passionate singing and remarkable performances. Dubbed the "prince of tenors", Corelli possessed handsome features and a charismatic stage presence which endeared him to audiences. He had a long and fruitful partnership with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City between 1961 and 1975. He also appeared on the stages of most of the major opera houses in Europe and with opera companies throughout North America.
María de Montserrat Viviana Concepción Caballé i FolchOIC OAXS OMFRG LH OMIR was a Spanish operatic soprano. She sang a wide variety of roles, but is best known as an exponent of the works of Verdi and of the bel canto repertoire, notably the works of Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. She was noticed internationally when she stepped in for a performance of Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia at Carnegie Hall in 1965, and then appeared at leading opera houses. Her voice was described as pure but powerful, with superb control of vocal shadings and exquisite pianissimo.
Spinto is a vocal term used to characterize a soprano or tenor voice of a weight between lyric and dramatic that is capable of handling large musical climaxes in opera at moderate intervals.
Leopoldine "Leonie" Rysanek was an Austrian dramatic soprano.
Nicola Martinucci is an Italian opera singer, particularly noted for his performances in the spinto tenor of roles Calaf in Turandot, Radamès in Aida, and the title role in Andrea Chénier.
Carlo Cossutta was a prominent Italian dramatic tenor who had a major international opera career that spanned from the mid-1950s through the late 1990s. He began and ended his career at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires where he sang regularly from 1958 through 1998. He first drew international attention in 1964 when he sang the title role in the world premiere of Alberto Ginastera's Don Rodrigo, which led to a series of appearances at the Royal Opera, London during the 1960s. In the 1970s his international career skyrocketed with appearances at most of the major opera houses in Europe and the United States. He remained active on the international stage during the 1980s but his career slowed down significantly in the 1990s after he contracted liver cancer.
Richard Cassilly was an American operatic tenor who had a major international opera career between 1954-90. Cassilly "was a mainstay in the heldentenor repertory in opera houses around the world for 30 years", and particularly excelled in Wagnerian roles like Tristan, Siegmund and Tannhäuser, and in dramatic parts that required both stamina and vocal weight, such as Giuseppe Verdi's Otello and Camille Saint-Saëns's Samson.
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.
Boyko Tzvetanov is a Bulgarian operatic tenor. He studied at the Bulgarian Music Academy in his native city of Sofia with Professor Hadjiev and was taken on as a soloist with the Sofia National Opera as early as 1982.
A spinto soprano is a type of operatic soprano voice that has the limpidity and easy high notes of a lyric soprano, yet can be "pushed" on to achieve dramatic climaxes without strain. This type of voice may possess a somewhat darker timbre, too, than the average lyric soprano. It generally uses squillo to "slice" through the sound of a full orchestra, rather than singing over the orchestra like a true dramatic soprano.
Mario Filippeschi was an Italian tenor, particularly associated with the Italian repertory, renowned for his ringing upper register.
Lorenz Fehenberger, was a German operatic tenor, particularly associated with the German and Italian repertories.
Giulio Crimi was an Italian operatic tenor.
Flaviano Labò, was an Italian operatic tenor, particularly associated with heroic roles of the Italian repertory.
Maurice Stern is an American operatic tenor and sculptor. He graduated from the Eastman School of Music. He made his debut at the New York City Opera as The Emperor Altuom in Giacomo Puccini's Turandot, and received a laudatory solo review by Eric Salzman of The New York Times for that small role.
József Simándy was a Hungarian tenor with German origins. His name in Hungarian form is Simándy József, his original family name is Schulder. A student of Emilia Posszert, he joined the chorus of the Hungarian State Opera in 1940; in 1946, he made his debut as Don José in Carmen in Szeged. In 1947, he returned to the Budapest Opera, where he was the leading heroic tenor until 1984. He performed regularly in Munich as well, from 1956 until 1960. Besides heroic tenor roles, Simándy took on lyric and spinto parts as well; he was best known for his Radames, Lohengrin, and Otello. Recordings include two operas by Ferenc Erkel, Bánk bán and Hunyadi László, in both of which he sang the title role.
Aleksandrs Antoņenko is a Latvian tenor who specializes in dramatic repertoire, The Metropoliten opera, La Scala soloist.
Gaston Rivero is an Uruguayan-US American operatic tenor.