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Blanche Thebom (Mezzo-soprano)

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.

Blanche Thebom [02]

Blanche Thebom [07]

Blanche Thebom [08]

Blanche Thebom [09]

Blanche Thebom [04]

Blanche Thebom [01]

Blanche Thebom as Amneris in Aida c1952 (Sedge LeBlang/The Metropolitan Archives) [03]

Blanche Thebom as Dorabella in Così fan tutte [06]

Standing by beloved friend Eleanor Steberís portrait in Founderís Hall at the Met (Bruce Burroughs) [05]

Source: San Francisco Girls Chorus Website (2000-2001); Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); OPERAlmanac Mailing List (September 2004); New York Time obituary (March 2010)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2001, September 2004, January 2011); Yoël L. Arbeitman (January 2011)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Robert Shaw


BWV 243, BWV 245

Links to other Sites

SFGC: Blanche Thebom
Blanche Thebom (AMG)
Blanche Thebom (Wikipedia)
Blanche Thebom (IMDB)
Blanche Thebom: A True Diva (The Protero) [May 2010)

Blanche Thebom, Star at the Met and Beyond, Dies at 94 (NY Times) [Mar 2010]
In Memoriam: Blanche Thebom (1915-2010) (San Francisco Classical Voice)
Famed Canton opera singer Blanche Thebom dies (CantonRep)
The Monday After: Opera singer Blanche Thebom was the bomb (CantonRep)

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Last update: żJune 18, 2012 ż18:05:28