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Leo Slezak (1873 - 1946)

When Slezak’s father’s milling business collapsed, the family moved to Brünn (now Brno), where after leaving school Leo worked as a gardener and then a locksmith. He also sang as an amateur in the chorus of the Brünn Theatre and attracted the attention of Adolf Robinson, who had appeared frequently at the Metropolitan Opera, New York between 1884 and 1889. Under Robinson’s tutelage Slezak developed rapidly and in 1896 made his operatic stage debut in the title role of Lohengrin.

Success was immediate and further roles followed quickly. Following a guest appearance at the Berlin Court Opera in 1898, Slezak accepted a five-year contract; but on being given small roles only, in 1899 he began to sing with the Breslau (now Wrocław) Opera. With this company he appeared in 1900 at the Royal Opera House, London singing Lohengrin and the title roles in Tannhäuser and Siegfried (the only time he sang the latter role).




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