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Lauritz Melchior
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    (March 20, 1890-March 19, 1973)
    Born in Copenhagen, Denmark
    Heldentenor (‘heroic’ tenor)
    Known for his roles in Wagnerian operas, including ‘Tristan und Isolde,’ ‘Parsifal,’ ‘The Flying Dutchman,’ ‘Tannhauser,’ ‘Siegfried’ and ‘Lohengrin’
    Performed 519 times with the Metropolitan Opera (1926-50)
    Appeared in the movie musicals ‘Thrill of a Romance’ (1945), ‘Two Sisters from Boston’ (1946), ‘This Time for Keeps’ (1947), ‘Luxury Liner’ (1948) and ‘The Stars Are Singing’ (1953)
    Became a US citizen (1947)
    He started out as a baritone and had to retrain his voice for tenor parts.
    He had the cheesy sobriquet ‘the Great Dane of the Met.’
    In most of his films, he played a famous Danish opera singer. (Although in ‘The Stars Are Singing,’ he stretched his range to play a famous Polish opera singer.)
    He was considered the definitive Wagnerian tenor of his day.
    He successfully auditioned before Wagner’s widow Cosima and son Siegfried to perform at the first post-WWI Wagner Festival in Bayreuth (1924).
    His voice held up incredibly well, showing little deterioration when he performed on Danish radio for his 70th birthday.
    Even after his official retirement, he would occasionally sing the national anthem at Los Angeles Dodgers games, including Game 3 of the 1963 World Series.
    He endowed a scholarship at Juilliard to train other heldentenors.

Credit: C. Fishel

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