Putnam Griswold

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Griswold as Mephisto
Putnam Griswold

Putnam Griswold (1875–1914) was an American opera singer (bass), born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Originally he followed a business career. At the age of 22 he discovered his voice and began to study with a local teacher in California.

In 1900 he went to London, where he was for two years a pupil of Alberto Randegger at the Royal College of Music. During the winter of 1902/03 he studied under Bouhy at Paris, the next winter under Julius Stockhausen at Frankfurt; and finally he completed his studies with Emerich at Berlin in 1905.

His operatic début took place at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, in 1901. During the summer of 1904 he sang at the Royal Opera in Berlin. After having sung the role of Gurnemanz in Savage's production of Parsifal in America (1904–1905), he became in 1906 a regular member of the Berlin Opera. There he remained, appearing also as guest in various German cities, until he came to the Metropolitan Opera House in 1911, where through his interpretation of Wagner's heroes, he immediately won over the public and critics.

His sudden death on February 26, 1914—due to an attack of appendicitis—came as a shock to his numerous admirers.

Griswold was the first American bass to sing the great Wagner roles at the Metropolitan, where he was compared with the most distinguished of his foreign predecessors. He had been a prime favorite in Berlin, where the critics had praised him as the greatest foreign interpreter of Wotan and he was twice decorated by Emperor William (Kaiser Wilhelm).