Thursday, May 26, 2011

Golden Age Singer of the Week--James King

Since this blog began with the purpose to remind us of singers from the mid-20th century golden age, I'm going to return to my old pattern of posting about one such singer per week.

Today I give you James King:

From his Wikipedia bio-blurb:

James King (May 22, 1925 – November 20, 2005) was widely regarded as the finest American heldentenor of the post-war period.

Born in Dodge City, Kansas, King studied music at Louisiana State University and earned a master's degree in 1952 from Kansas City University. He started singing as a baritone, but noticed in 1955 that his range was more that of a tenor. He retrained himself as a tenor and won the American Opera Auditions in Cincinnati in 1961. He made his debut as Don Jose in Bizet's Carmen with the San Francisco Opera. He sang the French and Italian repertoire with the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 1962 to 1965 and world-wide at most of the major opera houses, being a particular favorite at the Vienna State Opera, where he last appeared as Florestan in Beethoven's Fidelio, in 1997.

He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1966. He sang at all the major opera houses in Europe and America and recorded extensively. One of his most famous recordings, however, was not in opera, but rather that of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, recorded with Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. His baritone partner in that recording was Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. (He also recorded it with Janet Baker under Bernard Haitink).

A small selection of King's other recordings include: Wagner's Die Walküre (with Birgit Nilsson and Hans Hotter, conducted by Sir Georg Solti, 1965); Puccini's Tosca (excerpts in German, opposite Anja Silja, conducted by Lorin Maazel, 1966); Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos (1968); Fidelio (1969); Wagner's Lohengrin (1971); Puccini's Madama Butterfly (with Maria Chiara, 1972); Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila (1973); Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten (1977); Hindemith's Mathis der Maler (with Fischer-Dieskau and William Cochran, 1979); Franz Schmidt's Notre Dame (1988); and, from the Bayreuth Festival, Die Walküre (with Nilsson and Theo Adam, 1967) and Parsifal (with Dame Gwyneth Jones, led by Pierre Boulez, 1970).

He taught at Indiana University from 1984 to 2003. It was there your intrepid reporter studied with him for a semester, on the advice Although a fine singer and a nice fellow, he was not the teacher for me. I switched to another teacher who was very helpful, but only stayed another two semesters. Indiana University was also not the right place for me.

But this post isn't about me. Or is it?

No comments: