15 February 2012
Charles Anthony, 82, Met Stalwart Who Sang 2,928 Performances Over Fifty-Six Seasons, Has Died
Charles Anthony, an American tenor who sang a record 2,928 performances with the Metropolitan Opera over fifty-six seasons with the company, has died following a long illness. Anthony, who was 82, died at his home in Tampa, Florida.
Anthony began his professional career singing the Messenger in a New Orleans Opera production of Il Trovatore in 1947 and went on to made his Metropolitan Opera debut on March 6, 1954, as Boris Godunov's Simpleton. Over the span of a career of astounding length and breadth, Anthony went on to sing 111 roles in sixty-nine operas with the Met, distinguishing himself primarily in comprimario roles alongside some of the greatest singers of the twentieth century. Anthony appeared onstage during the Met debuts of Marian Anderson, Birgit Nilsson, Jon Vickers, Leontyne Price, Franco Corelli, Joan Sutherland, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Jose Carreras.
"The term comprimario has somewhat negative connotations in America," Anthony said in 1999 interview with OPERA NEWS. "In Italian, it means 'with the first.' We're the principal singers' essential supporting players, and we're proud of what we do. Not everyone can be a Jussi Bjoerling or a Maria Callas. God gives us each a glass but doesn't necessarily fill yours and mine with the same amount of talent." Others were not so quick to dismiss Anthony's talent as the tenor himself. "Charles Anthony's lyrical singing comes straight out of the tradition of Schipa, Valletti and all their kind, who really knew how to sing," Met music director James Levine said in the same interview. "His total commitment to each facet of his art is evident in every rehearsal and performance."
Calogero Antonio Caruso was born in 1929 to Sicilian parents in New Orleans, and, following a year of pre-medicine studies at Tulane, went on to earn his Bachelor of Music degree at Loyola. In 1952, the twenty-two year old tenor won the Metropolitan Opera's Auditions of the Air, and — heeding the advice of then general manager of Rudolf Bing, who wished for the younger singer to avoid comparisons with Enrico Caruso — Anthony dropped his surname from his stage name. Following his Auditions of the Air win, Anthony traveled to Rome for two years of study and professional performances. A subsequent invitation to train at the Met's Kathryn Turney Long School went lost in the mail, but the company eventually reached Anthony in New Orleans and offered him the role in Boris Godunov.
Anthony's most frequently performed roles with the Met include the Innkeeper in Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier (159), Ruiz in Verdi's Il Trovatore (141), Gastone in Verdi's La Traviata (136) and Spoletta in Tosca. Anthony's last performance with the company came on January 28, 2010, when he appeared as Emperor Altoum in the Met's production of Turandot. During his career, Anthony did make several appearances in leading roles with the Met, including two 1956 performances as Don Pasquale's Ernesto, a performance as Bohème's Rodolfo in 1959 and two 1962 performances as Ferrando in Così fan Tutte.
Anthony is survived by his wife Eleanor, his children Anna Beth, Barbara, and Tony, his seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
More information can be found at The Metropolitan Opera, Washington Post and the OPERA NEWS Archives.
Send breaking news to our Web
Send feedback to OPERA