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Martti Talvela (1935 - 1989)

The eighth of ten children to be born into a family of farmers and amateur singers, Talvela earned his first singing fee when only five. Growing to an eventual height of six feet eight inches, making him one of the tallest singers of the twentieth century, he initially trained as a boxer, which was to prove to be valuable experience in terms of stamina. He then studied to become a primary school teacher in Savonlinna between 1952 and 1956, going on to teach at three schools between 1957 and 1960.

Talvela’s interest in opera having been sparked by hearing the Russian bass Ivan Petrov sing the title role in Boris Godunov, he entered the Lahti Academy of Music in 1958 to study singing formally with Taunokaivela. After winning first prize in a song competition held in Helsinki at the beginning of 1960 he continued his vocal studies with Carl Martin Öhman in Stockholm. He made his debut with the Royal Swedish Opera in 1961 as Sparafucile / Rigoletto and developed a parallel career as a song recitalist, becoming a champion of the songs of Sibelius and Kilpinen.




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