17 Feb 2012

Death of long-serving Met tenor

1:29 pm on 17 February 2012

A tenor who set the record for the most appearances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York has died in Tampa, Florida.

Charles Anthony, 82, sang in 2928 performances at the Met. His debt was in 1954.

During a career lasting 60 years, he took on more than 100 roles in 69 operas.

The BBC reports he starred with the cream of opera talent, including the Met debuts of Jose Carreras and Joan Sutherland.

Anthony was born Calogero Antonio Caruso, a name he was persuaded to relinquish for the good of his career.

He performed 159 times as the innkeeper in Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier .

He last appeared, as Emperor Altoum in Puccini's Turandot, in January 2010.

Paying tribute to the singer in his 50th year of performing for the opera, in 2004, then-general manager Joseph Volpe said: "It's no exaggeration to say that Charlie Anthony is the soul of the Metropolitan Opera."

Aided by terror

Asked about his longevity by TIME magazine at the time, Anthony said ''abject terror'' helped him to keep focused.

"A singer onstage in the moments before he opens his mouth is the loneliest person in the world," he said.

Anthony began his career at the old Met building on Broadway before moving with the opera to its current home at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1966.

Following his debut at the Met as the Simpleton in Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, on 6 March 1954, the New York Times wrote: "Mr Anthony had better be careful.

"If he does other bit parts so vividly, he'll be stamped as a character singer for life."

The BBC reports Anthony made a few appearances in leading roles in the 1950s and 1960s, including one as Rodolfo in Puccini's La Boheme in 1959.

He broke the Met record on 17 February 1992 singing the role of courtier Borsa in Verdi's Rigoletto, beating the previous record of baritone George Cehanovsky who sang there between 1926-1966.

Anthony's other most frequent roles include henchman Ruiz in Verdi's Il Trovatore, which he played 141 times, and Gastone, in Verdi's La Traviata, which he played 136 times.