In the early part of his career, in November 1950 he was the baritone soloist in the American premiere of Frederick Delius's Requiem. Although the work was completed in 1916, this was only its third performance (the first two, in London and Frankfurt, had occurred as far back as 1922).
He was one of the founding members of the NBC Opera Theatre, a company he performed with throughout the 1950s in such productions as Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd and the world premiere of Norman Dello Joio's The Trial at Rouen.
He also enjoyed a lengthy association with the New York City Opera (NYCO) from 1958 to 1979. At the NYCO he notably appeared in a number of world premieres including Robert Ward's The Crucible, Hugo Weisgall's Six Characters in Search of an Author and Josef Tal's Ashmedai among others. He also appeared in the 1970 Broadway musical Cry for Us All.
- "Paul Ukena, 69, A Former Baritone With City Opera". The New York Times. March 13, 1991. Retrieved July 1, 2009.
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