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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Many Faces of Charles Anthony

A look at the long career of the Met's great comprimario tenor.
From the Met archives: Charles Anthony as the Simpleton in Boris Godunov.
Photo by Sedge LeBlang, © 1954 The Metropolitan Opera. 
Rather than write a straight obituary for Charles Anthony, the comprimario tenor who shattered the record for most appearances onstage at the Metropolitan Opera. He sang 2928 performances, in 67 operas, and had 111 roles to his credit. He broke the record for most Met performances in 1992 with the role of Borsa in Rigoletto. 

Company music director James Levine is in second place with 2,442.

Born in New Orleans, LA in 1929, Mr. Anthony began life as Calogero Antonio Caruso. The singer first auditioned for  the Met in 1952. Former Met general manager Rudolf Bing forced Mr. Anthony to drop his last name right before a broadcast performance.

His first performance was on March 17, 1954 as the Simpleton in Boris Godunov with George London singing the title role. 

According to the Metropolitan Opera archives, Mr. Anthony sang leading roles in his early career, including a 1959 Rodolfo in La bohème and Ferrando in Così fan tutte. But he was known for small parts in major operas.

His staples included: 
the Innkeeper in Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, (159 performances) 
Ruiz in Il Trovatore (141 performances)
Gastone in La Traviata (136 performances)
Spoletta in Tosca (135 performances.)

I thought it might be fun to look at his career in terms of (some) of the roles that he sang at that venerable opera company. Here's a partial list:
  1. The Simpleton in Boris Godunov. (debut)
  2. The Count of Lerma in Don Carlo.
  3. Beppe in Pagliacci.
  4. L'Incredible in Andrea Chenier.
  5. The Count Almaviva (and later the Sergeant) in Il barbiere di Siviglia.
  6. Remendado in Carmen.
  7. Goro in Madama Butterfly.
  8. Tinca in Il Tabarro
  9. Abbé in Adriana Lecouvrer
  10. First Commissioner in Dialogues des Carmélites
  11. Roderigo in Otello.
  12. Trin in La Fanciulla del West.
  13. Arturo, Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor.
  14. Innkeeper, Faninal's Major-Domo in Der Rosenkavalier.
  15. Watchman in Die Frau Ohne Schatten.
  16. Young Servant in Elektra.
  17. Gastone in La Traviata.
  18. Jaquino in Fidelio.
  19. Edmondo in Manon Lescaut.
  20. Steersman in Die fliegende Holländer.
  21. Don Riccardo in Ernani.
  22. Andres in Wozzeck.
  23. Schmidt in Werther.
  24. Notary in La Perichole.
  25. Shepherd in Tristan und Isolde. Also in Oedipus Rex.
  26. Heinrich in Tannhäuser.
  27. Flavio in Norma.
  28. Noble in Lohengrin.
  29. Rodolfo, Parpignol in La bohème.
  30. Ernesto in Don Pasquale.
  31. Cochenille in Les contes d'Hoffmann.
  32. A waiter in Arabella.
  33. A Priest in Die Zauberflöte.
  34. The Messenger in Aida.
  35. Borsa in Rigoletto.
  36. Arthur Jones in Billy Budd.
  37. Bruno in I Puritani.
  38. Desiré in Fedora.
  39. Captain in Simon Boccanegra.
  40. Third Squire in Parsifal.
  41. Federico in Stiffelio.
  42. A Jew in Salome.
  43. Ruiz in Il Trovatore.
  44. Messenger in Samson et Dalila.
  45. Eisslinger, Kunz Vogelgesang in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
  46. Guard in Manon.
  47. A Servant in Un Ballo in Maschera.
  48. Spoletta in Tosca.
  49. The Emperor Altoum in Turandot. (last role)
Charles Anthony as the Emperor Altoum in Turandot.
Photo by Marty Sohl © 2009-2010 The Metropolitan Opera.
Charles Anthony's last performance at the Met was as the Emperor Altoum in Turandot, on Jan. 28, 2010. He died at home in Tampa, FL. The New York Times reported his cause of death as kidney failure. A private funeral is scheduled for Saturday.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.