Lawrence Tibbett (1896-1960) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Lawrence Tibbett (1896-1960)

Historical Note: (b Bakersfield, CA, 16 Nov 1896; d New York, 15 July 1960). American baritone. After beginning his career as an actor and as a singer in church and light operas, he studied with Joseph Dupuy and Basil Ruysdael in Los Angeles and with Frank La Forge and Ignaz Zitomirsky in New York, which led to his Metropolitan debut as Lewicki in Boris Godunov (1923). A week later he sang Valentin in Faust, but recognition did not come until 1925 when he sang Ford in Falstaff, eclipsing Antonio Scotti in the title role; he eventually succeeded Scotti in the leading Italian roles and remained a principal with the company for 27 seasons, noted, in his prime, for his legato and vivid acting. He sang in the premi�?�¨res of Taylor's The King's Henchman (1927) and Peter Ibbetson (1931), Gruenberg's The Emperor Jones (1933), Hanson's Merry Mount (1934) and Seymour's In the Pasha's Garden (1935). He also took part in the first Metropolitan performances of Jonny spielt auf, Peter Grimes, Hageman?s Caponsacchi, Simon Boccanegra and Khovanshchina (in which he made his last Metropolitan appearance in 1950, as Ivan). He also sang in San Francisco, Chicago, Paris, Vienna and Prague, and at Covent Garden created the title role in Goossens's Don Juan de Ma�?�±ara (1937). His dark, pliant voice and matin�?�©e-idol appearance made him popular in films as well as light opera, and he was a significant force in early American radio. In 1950 he appeared on Broadway in The Barrier, and his last stage role was in the musical comedy Fanny (1956). He is perhaps best represented by his Otello recordings, which reveal him as an Iago of sly wit, his ample fervour in the "Credo" counterbalanced by a silken pianissimo in "Era la notte". He also sang Germont in the live 1935 Metropolitan recording of La traviata with Rosa Ponselle.
Sources: "Tibbett, Lawrence" in New Grove Dictionary of American Music�?�  (London: 1986), vol.4, p.394 [ML101.U6 N38] or New Grove Online.
Note Author: Noah Lenstra

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