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Subject: Re: Uppman as Sharpless
From: James Bodge <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Mon, 20 Nov 2006 07:22:37 -0800
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At 09:01 PM 11/19/2006 -0500, Simon Rich wrote:
>I guess I saw Uppman most as Masetto, a role he sang 98 times with the
>Met, and Eisenstein. What a pity that he, the creator of the role, never
>got to sing Billy Budd at the Met.
>Simon

Uppman debuted at the MET as Pelleas in 1953, a year or more after the
premiere of BILLY BUDD.  After establishing himself with the company, he
did ask Bing to produce the American stage premiere (an abridgement had
been shown on NBC-TV, with Uppman).  Bing's reaction:  "The Metropolitan
only produces masterpieces."  Indeed, Bing had held his nose throughout
his obligation to give the American premiere of THE RAKE'S PROGRESS, and
his only other premieres in 22 years with the company were VANESSA, THE
LAST SAVAGE, MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA and ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, the last
necessitated by the opening of the new opera house. While worthy pieces,
none of them is as fine as BILLY BUDD, which finally got it's American
premiere at Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1972, the last time Uppman sang the
role.  He went on to coach just about every baritone that has ever taken
the part on.  The opera has been a great success at the MET since 1978,
when it featured Stillwell.  Other MET Billy's have included Thomas Allen,
Dwayne Croft and Thomas Hampson.

Uppman was a much valued artist in New York, a lyric baritone of real
substance and beauty.  His major roles at the MET that haven't been
mentioned included Papageno Guglielmo, Harlequin (ARIADNE), Eisenstein
(FLEDERMAUS), Taddeo (L'ITALIANA), Marcello, Silvio and Paquillo in LA
PERICHOLE, which he did 54 times - every performance of the piece the MET
ever gave.


Jim Bodge

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