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Lauritz Melchior (1890 - 1973)

Lauritz Melchior, whose father was the rector of a private boys’ school in Copenhagen, started singing early, when a voice teacher who lodged in the family home gave all the children singing lessons. He also sang in a church choir in Copenhagen and commenced formal singing lessons in 1908 (as a baritone) with Paul Bang.

At the age of twenty-one Melchior entered the Royal Danish Opera School; and after singing Germont père / La traviata in 1912 with the tiny touring company Zwicki and Stagel Opera, he made his formal debut in 1913 as Silvio / Pagliacci with the Royal Danish Opera. He remained with this company for several years, gradually moving from comprimario to principal roles. One evening while singing di Luna / Il trovatore, he helped the ailing soprano by singing a high C in the Leonora– di Luna duet of Act IV; whereupon the Azucena of the performance, the American Mme Charles Cahier, advised him that he was a tenor ‘with the lid on’.



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