Paul Althouse

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Althouse in Boris Godunov in 1913
Paul Althouse

Paul Shearer Althouse (December 2, 1889 – February 6, 1954) was an American opera singer. He began his career as a lyric tenor with a robust Italianate sound, excelling in roles like Cavaradossi, Pinkerton, and Turiddu. He later branched out into the dramatic tenor repertoire, finding particular success in portraying Wagnerian heroes. He enjoyed a particularly fruitful association with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Biography[edit]

He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania on December 2, 1889.[1] Althouse sang as a boy soprano in the choir of his hometown's Episcopal Church. He received his first voice lessons at the church from Evelyn Essick. He studied music at Bucknell University and then singing privately with Perley Dunn Aldrich in Philadelphia and Oscar Saenger and Percy Rector Stevens in New York. He made his professional opera debut with the Philadelphia-Chicago Grand Opera Company as the title hero in Charles Gounod's Faust in an out of town engagement in New York City.[2]

Althouse debuted at the Metropolitan opera in a small role in The Magic Flute on November 23, 1912. His first major assignment with that company came on March 19, 1913 as Grigory in the United States premiere of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov under the baton of Arturo Toscanini.[3][4] He was notably the first American tenor without European experience to sing at the Met.[2]

Althouse remained at the Met through 1920, during which time he participated in the world premieres of Victor Herbert's Madeleine (François, 1914), Umberto Giordano’s Madame Sans-Gêne (Neipperg, 1915), Reginald de Koven's The Canterbury Pilgrims (Squire, 1917), Charles Wakefield Cadman’s Shanewis (Lionel, 1918) and Joseph Carl Breil’s The Legend (Stephen, 1919). His other roles at the house during these years included: Cavaradossi in Tosca, Froh in Das Rheingold, the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier, Nicias in Thaïs, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana, Uin-San-Lui in Franco Leoni's L'Oracolo, Walther in Tannhäuser, Vladimir in Prince Igor, and the title role in Oberon.[4]

Althouse spent much of the 1920s dedicated to concert performances. After a five-year absence from opera, he appeared as Faust in San Francisco in 1925. He joined the roster of singers at the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company (PCOC) that year, making his debut with the company as Avito in L'amore dei tre re. He also sang Samson in Samson and Delilah and Don José in Carmen with the company that year. He visited the Bayreuth Festival in the summer of 1925, and decided he wanted to train as a Heldentenor. He made his first foray into that heavier repertoire at the PCOC as Tristan in Tristan und Isolde on March 25, 1926. He continued to perform with the PGOC annually through 1929 in such roles as Canio in Pagliacci, Pinkerton, Radamès in Aida, Siegmund in Die Walküre, and Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.[2]

In 1929 Althouse made his first appearances at major European opera houses, appearing at the Berlin State Opera, the Staatsoper Stuttgart, and the Royal Swedish Opera, mainly as Turiddu and as Canio. That same year he also performed in concerts with the Eaton Choral Society in Toronto. In 1930 he sang at the Chicago Civic Opera as Tannhauser and Siegmund. In 1931 he sang the title role in Stravinsky's Oedipus rex with the Philadelphia Orchestra under conductor Leopold Stokowski. He sang Tristan and Siegfried in concert with the orchestra the following year. In 1933 he sang Tristan in San Francisco.[2]

After a thirteen-year absence, Althouse returned to the Met on February 26, 1933 for a special concert honoring Giulio Gatti-Casazza. He next appeared on stage as Siegmund in Die Walküre on February 3, 1934 with Frida Leider as Brünnhilde. He appeared annually at Met for the next six years, singing such roles as Aegisth in Elektra, Loge in Das Rheingold, Pinkerton, Tristan, Walther von Stolzing, and the title role in Lohengrin. His last appearance at the Met was in a concert evening on February 18, 1940.[4]

Althouse retired from the stage in 1945, after which he dedicated himself to teaching.[1] Amongst his pupils were Richard Tucker, Eleanor Steber, Astrid Varnay, and Léopold Simoneau.

He died on February 6, 1954.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Paul Althouse Dies. 30 Years with 'Met'". Associated Press. February 8, 1954. Retrieved 2011-03-27. Paul Althouse, American tenor who costarred with Caruso in a 30 year career with the Metropolitan Opera died yesterday. He was 64. ... a native of Reading, PA ... 
  2. ^ a b c d Althouse, Paul at operissimo.com (in German)
  3. ^ "American Premiere of 'Boris Godounoff' Wednesday". New York Times. March 12, 1913. Retrieved 2011-03-09. Boris Godounoff, the Russian opera by Moussorgsky, will be the feature of next week's repertoire at the Metropolitan Opera House, where it will have its first American hearing on Wednesday evening. It will be conducted by Mr. Toscanini, and the cast will include Madames Homer, Case, Sparkes, Maubourg, and Duchene, and Messrs. Didur, Althouse, Rothier, Reiss, Bada, De Segurola, Rossi, Audisi, Reschiglian, and Kreidler. 
  4. ^ a b c Metropolitan Opera performance archives

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