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Subject: John Charles Thomas
From: Tom Wikman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Tom Wikman <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 11 Dec 2016 00:10:16 +0000

text/plain (14 lines)

I’ve never understood thecondescending remarks thatI’ve seen on this list from time to time aboutJohn Charles Thomas. Someone recently suggested that he wasn’t a “real operasinger.” Bob found him distinctly inferior to Peter Dawson as a singer of songs,and others have suggested that he didn’t have much of an operatic career. Yes,he started out on Broadway as the star of Naughty Marietta, Maytime, and AppleBlossoms, and the like. Why not? He was very young, extremely handsome, and hewas paid a fortune to do so. It’s said that he made a million dollars before hewas 30. Never-the-less, he turned to opera in his early 30s. He seems to havesung a wide repertoire, including the big French roles, Verdi and otherItalians, as well as Jochanaan, Wolfram, and Telramund. It’s said that Tibbett heard JCT in the worldpremiere of Hanson’s Merrymount, andperceived that Bradford would be a fine role for himself. Frank Chapman,Gladys Swarthout’s husband, and a fine baritone himself, acclaimed Thomas,along with Caruso, Ponselle, and Pinza as one of the four greatest voices hehad ever heard. I know that when I was a young kid, my parents and other adultsfelt that Thomas was vocally superior to Warren and Merrill. They, ofcourse, were thinking of the JCT of the 30s, whose records were in theircollections. There is no doubt that he liked to bethe star of the show, which didn’t endear him to allof his colleagues.  Chaliapin sangin Faust with him at Covent Garden, and was furiouswith the huge ovations given Thomas. He vowed to never sing with him again. Heknew how to bring the house down. At his Chicago debut as Tonio, the wholeaudience stood and applauded him all the way through intermission. Hesang very little with the Met, but of his 35 or so performances on the Met stage, 7were broadcasts. I doubt that any other singer hit that kind of percentage!Obviously,the Met felt it was worth it. His reviews were consistently laudatory, especiallyabout his voice and his polished technique. Critics often mentioned the thrillhe produced in his audiences.   Ihave many baritone favorites that I listen to all the time, but for gorgeoustone, perfect emission, and thrilling high notes, and great diction, Thomasstands at the very top.      

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