Monday, March 8, 2010

Leonard Warren †March 4, 1960

The post-Met program on WHRB reminded me that last Thursday, March 4, was the 50th anniversary of the death of the American baritone Leonard Warren. He collapsed and died of a heart attack on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House during a performance of "La Forza del Destino" just after completing the aria "Urna Fatale." He was my favorite baritone, and I was in my senior year of high school when he died. I remember when I woke up — I think it was a Saturday morning — my mother told me, "Bad news: Leonard Warren died." I could hardly believe it.

Here are some recordings to bring back memories if you're my age, and to give you some idea of his artistry if you're too young to remember him.

Here he is in an aria from Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera."

And here he is with two of my other favorite singers, Jussi Bjoerling and Zinka Milanov in the first act trio from "Il Trovatore."

Those are studio recordings. Here is a live performance from the Met seven years before he died, in which he sings that last aria. I believe he collapsed at about the point of the first applause.

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