A Quaker Singer's Recollections     (David Bispham)
Item# B1037
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A Quaker Singer's Recollections     (David Bispham)
B1037. DAVID BISPHAM. A Quaker Singer’s Recollections [Autobiography]. New York, Macmillan, 1920. 401pp. Index; Photos.


“David Scull Bispham studied singing in Florence with Luigi Vannuccini and in Milan with Francesco Lamperti. He also studied in Bayreuth. In 1891 he was selected from among fifty applicants to perform the rôle of the Duc de Longueville in a London performance of André Messager's LA BASOCHE, marking his first professional appearance on any stage. He was engaged by the Royal Opera at Covent Garden to sing the part of Beckmesser in DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG in June 1892. This production was also to feature Jean de Reszke, Emma Albani, and Jean Lassalle in the other leading rôles. De Reszke fell ill during rehearsals, and the production had to be cancelled. On the day of the cancellation, however, Bispham was asked to substitute on the following day as Kurwenal in TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, under Gustav Mahler. This was Bispham's first Wagnerian rôle. His success there brought him a contract for Covent Garden, where he appeared, primarily in Wagnerian rôles, for all but two of the next ten seasons. Bispham made his American début, once again in Wagner, at the Metropolitan Opera on18 November, 1896, as Beckmesser. He remained with the company until 1903, singing mainly Wagnerian rôles; he also appeared in the American premières of Ignace Paderewski's MANRU and Ethel Smyth's DER WALD.

He was a close personal friend of American soprano Lillian Nordica, with whom he travelled to Australia on her last tour before her death. He was also a frequent professional colleague of both De Reszke brothers (Jean and Edouard), Olive Fremstad, Ernestine Schumann-Heink and Dame Clara Butt, among singers, and Hans Richter, Arthur Nikisch, Felix Mottl, Anton Seidl and Walter Damrosch, among conductors.

Bispham wrote a memoir of his professional career called A QUAKER SINGER'S RECOLLECTIONS, published by Macmillan in January 1920.”

- Zillah Dorset Akron