Lauritz Melchior

Lauritz Melchior
Clarence Bull / MGM

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Lauritz Melchior
Music: East side of the 1700 block of Vine Street
Opera Singer
Born Lauritz Melchior on March 20, 1890 in Copenhagen, Denmark
Died March 18, 1973 of gallbladder surgery in Santa Monica, CA

Lauritz Melchior was a Danish-born tenor who won fame with the Metropolitan Opera of New York and later in musical films.

Melchior began his singing career with the Copenhagen Opera in 1913 as a baritone and continued to sing baritone roles for eight years.

He then stopped performing for a year to expand his range to the "Heldentenor" specialty, developing a capacity to sing high notes in tenor while maintaining the lower baritone notes.

In 1926 he joined the Metropolitan Opera and continued to appear with that company until 1950, when he left after a widely reported argument with the artistic director, Sir Rudolf Bing.

Though famous in European and American operatic circles, he became best known to the general public through the five motion pictures he made in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He also made numerous radio and television appearances.

Despite his age and hearing defect, Melchior never formally retired and continued to perform occasionally until shortly before his death.

He had received many decorations from many nations, and held the title of "Singer To The Royal Court" (Kammersanger) in Denmark.

He was awarded the Commander Cross of Dannebrog, was Commander of the White Rose of Finland and was a member of the French Legion of Honor. His footprints (size 13.5) are the largest in the forecourt at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Melchior was married three times. His first two marriages ended with the death of his wives; the third in divorce.

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