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George London (1920 - 1985)

George London (actual surname Burnstein) was born into a Russian-Jewish family that had emigrated to North America, settling in Los Angeles in 1935. Having studied singing with Richard Lert, Hugo Strelitzer and Nathan Stewart, he made his debut under the name George Burnson in 1942 as Dr Grenvil / La traviata at the Hollywood Bowl. London continued his vocal studies in New York with Enrico Rosati and Paola Novikova, appearing in operettas and musicals as well as with the San Francisco Opera as Monterone / Rigoletto in 1943, and as a substitute for Mihály Székely with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under Antal Dorati in 1945. During 1947 and 1948 he toured as part of the Bel Canto Trio with soprano Frances Yeend and tenor Mario Lanza.

In 1949 London auditioned for Karl Böhm at the Vienna State Opera and was immediately engaged. He was greatly admired in Vienna, making his debut as Amonasro / Aida to sensational success. This was followed by Escamillo / Carmen, the title roles in Eugene Onegin and Don Giovanni and the four villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. At the Glyndebourne Festival London first appeared in 1950 as Figaro / Le nozze di Figaro; and at the Bayreuth Festival in 1951 as Amfortas / Parsifal, a role which he sang there in 1952–1953, 1956–1957 and 1961–1962. Also at Bayreuth he assumed the title part of Der fliegende Holländer in 1956, 1959 and 1961.




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