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December 24: Caruso Sings “La Juive”

Enrico Caruso gave the final public performance of his career on this date in 1920, appearing as Eleazar the goldsmith in Jacques Halévy’s La Juive (The Jewess) at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Halévy (1799-1861), born in Paris, was the son of Cantor Élie Halfon Halévy, who was the secretary of the Jewish community […]

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August 17: Mozart’s Librettist

Lorenzo Da Ponte, the librettist for three of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most famous operas — Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and Così fan tutte — died at 89 on this date in 1838. Da Ponte was born as Emanuele Conegliano in the Republic of Venice. He converted to Catholicism for the sake of marriage and career […]

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Completing Marc Blitzstein’s Incomplete Works

In Honor of the Composer’s 50th Yortsayt, January 22, 2014 and the First Performance of His Work in Yiddish, March 6, 2014 by Leonard Lehrman I remember the turning of the year from 1963 to 1964 as a season of death: first the assassination of our youngest elected president, November 22nd; then the death of […]

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January 31: Philip Glass

Acclaimed composer Philip Glass, the son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants who owned a record store, was born in Baltimore on this date in 1937. He was keyboard and composition student at the Juilliard School of Music when, in 1959, he won one of the BMI Foundation’s prestigious Student Composer Awards. As a Fulbright scholar, Glass […]

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January 17: America’s Ballerina

Nora Kaye (Koreff), the first American ballerina to gain international fame, was born in New York on this date in 1920. She began her training at the age of 8, and by 15 was performing in the corps of the Metropolitan Opera. She was the prima ballerina with the Ballet Theater (later the American Ballet […]

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September 5th: Giacomo Meyerbeer

Giacomo Meyerbeer (Jacob Liebmann Beer), the most frequently performed opera composer on major European stages in the 19th century, was born to a wealthy Jewish family near Berlin on this date in 1791. His work combined German orchestral and Italian vocal styles, and theatrical stagings on a grand scale, all of which turned Paris, where […]

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May 25: Bubbles

Opera star Beverly Sills (Belle Miriam Silverman, nicknamed “Bubbles” at birth) was born in Brooklyn to immigrant parents on this date in 1929. She was singing professionally on the radio from the age of 4, and she appeared for the first time with the New York City Opera in 1955. She would not appear on […]

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August 30: Regina Resnik

Mezzo-soprano Regina Resnik was born in the Bronx on this date in 1922. Drawn to opera at an young age, she attended a special junior high school where she could study German and Italian, but then turned down a scholarship to Juilliard, opting instead for Hunter College, where she could prepare to be a music […]

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