Born: September 19, 1918 - Monessen, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: March 23, 2010 - San Francisco, California, USA
The American mezzo-soprano, Blanche Thebom, born to Swedish-American parents, studied singing with Margaret Matzenauer and Edyth Walker in New York.
Blanche Thebom made her concert debut in 1941, with the Metropolitan Opera, as Fricka in December 1941. She made her Met debut in November 1944 at the Philadelphia's Academy of Music as Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde. She was the leading dramatic mezzo-soprano of the Metropolitan Opera for 22 years, created the American premiere performances of Baba the Turk in Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, the Mother in Strauss' Arabella, and Mére Marie in Francis Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites. In her 22 seasons with the Met (1944-1959, 1960-1967) she appeared in 356 performances, 28 roles, and 27 works.
In a field long dominated by Europeans, Blanche Thebom was part of the first, midcentury wave of American opera singers to attain international careers. She was praised by critics for her warm voice, attentive phrasing and sensitive acting. Apart from the Met, she sang in various opera houses in America and Europe, with increasing success. The first American to sing at the Bolshoi Opera in Moscow, she is also remembered for her Dorabella in the historic production directed by Alfred Lunt of Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte, and for her Brangäne on Kirsten Flagstad/Wilhelm Furtwängler recording of Tristan und Isolde. She was also a superb Dido(n) in Rafael Kubelík's English language 1957 and 1958 Covent Garden revival of Berlioz's Les Troyens.
In 1967 Blanche Thebom was appointed head of the Southern Regional Opera Company in Atlanta. It folded in 1968. She also directed the opera program at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, and afterward moved to San Francisco. In 1968 she was appointed director of the opera workshop of San Francisco State University. She founded the Opera Arts Training Program, a three-week workshop in conjunction with San Francisco Girls Chorus in 1988. She lived and taught privately and helped create a training program for young singers in San Francisco. In later years, Blance Thebom appeared often in duo recitals with the soprano Eleanor Steber. She died of heart failure at her home in San Francisco on March 23, 2010. She was 91.