Jerome Hines

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Jerome A. Hines (November 8, 1921 – February 4, 2003) was an American operatic bass who performed at the Metropolitan Opera from 1946 to 1987. Standing 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m), his stage presence and stentorian voice made him ideal for such roles as Sarastro in The Magic Flute, Mephistopheles in Faust, Ramfis in Aida, the Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlos, the title role of Boris Godunov and King Mark in Tristan und Isolde.

Life and career[edit]

Hines was born Jerome Albert Link Heinz in Hollywood, California. He studied mathematics and chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, while also taking vocal lessons. Hines made his operatic debut at the San Francisco Opera in 1941, singing Monterone in Rigoletto. He changed his surname to Hines at the suggestion of his manager Sol Hurok to avoid the anti-German feelings prevalent during World War II.[1]

In 1946, Hines made his debut at the Met as the Sergeant in Boris Godunov. He went on to sing forty-one seasons there, encompassing forty-five roles in thirty-nine operas. During this time he pursued further voice studies with Samuel Margolis and Vladimir Rosing.

In 1953, Hines made his European debut with Glyndebourne Festival as Nick Shadow at the Edinburgh Festival in the first British performances of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. In 1958, he made his debut at La Scala in the title role of George Frideric Handel's Hercules. From 1958 to 1963, he sang at Bayreuth in the roles of Gurnemanz, King Mark and Wotan. In 1961, he first appeared at the San Carlo in the title role of Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele. In 1962, he sang Boris Godunov at the Bolshoi in Moscow, famously for Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev on the eve of the resolution of the Cuban Missile crisis.

Hines turned to coaching later in his career, founding the Opera-Music Theatre Institute of New Jersey in 1987, but he continued performing virtually until the end of his life; among his last appearances was a concert performance as the Grand Inquisitor with the Boston Bel Canto Opera in 2001 at the age of 79.

A born-again Christian and member of the Salvation Army, Hines composed an opera on the life of Jesus, I Am the Way. He sang the role of Jesus at the Met in 1968 (though not in a staged production of his opera) and performed the work many times around the world.

Hines wrote a memoir, This is My Story, This is My Song (1969) ISBN 0-8007-0313-8, and two books on singing, The Four Voices of Man (1997) ISBN 0-87910-099-0 and Great Singers on Great Singing (1982) ISBN 0-87910-025-7.

Hines maintained his interest in mathematics, one of his college majors, and occasionally published articles on the subject in mathematical journals; an example is an article "On approximating the roots of an equation by iteration" in the January/February 1951 issue of Mathematics Magazine.

Hines died of undisclosed causes in 2003 at age 81 at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.

Hines was married to the soprano Lucia Evangelista from 1952 until her death from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2000. They had four children, David, Andrew, John and Russell. For most of his life, he lived in South Orange, New Jersey.

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Interviews[edit]