V2442. CLARENCE WHITEHILL: Songs by Schumann, Molloy, Westendorf, Rodgers, Harrison, Adams & Carey; Arias from Verdi Requiem, Elijah, The Bohemian Girl, Panurge, Faust, Carmen, Philémon Et Baucis, Thaïs, Die Meistersinger, Tannhäuser, Parsifal & Die Walküre. (South Africa) Claremont GSE CD 78-50-82, recorded 1909-27. Transfers by Graham Sound. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy of this extremely limited edition!
"This disc fills a real need by gathering the best of the nearly 80 records made by Clarence Whitehill, the only American Heldenbariton of his time and a singer too often forgotten today. The vocalism is usually admirable, often more than that, but it is the singer’s unfailing dignity and sincerity that impress most strongly….The transfers are generally splendid.”
- Roger Pines, INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW, Aug., 2000
“Clarence Whitehill was a leading American bass-baritone. He sang at the Metropolitan Opera from 1915 to 1932. He sang on both sides of the Atlantic and is best remembered for his association with the music dramas of Richard Wagner, and for his recordings of well-known music hall.
Whitehill first studied in Chicago with L. A. Phelps, and then in Paris with Giraudet and the celebrated pedagogue Giovanni Sbriglia. In 1898, he made his stage début at La Monnaie in Brussels, as Capulet in ROMÉO ET JULIETTE. He sang Nilakhanta at the Opéra-Comique the next year, becoming the first ever American singer to perform in that famous theatre.
Wishing to broaden his repertoire, Whitehill travelled to Frankfurt in Germany to further his studies with Julius Stockhausen. He subsequently appeared on stage in several German cities, while studying the big Wagnerian baritone and bass-baritone roles. In 1904, he made a highly successful début at the Bayreuth Festival as Wolfram in TANNHÄUSER. Later, he sang Amfortas and Wotan, garnering equal praise from critics and audiences.
Whitehill went on to appear with considerable success at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in the first RING Cycle given there in the English language. He decided, however, that the time had come for him to leave Europe and return to America, and he made his Metropolitan Opera début on 25 November, 1909.
He would enjoy a long and praiseworthy career at the Met. He was especially acclaimed in such taxing Wagnerian parts as Hans Sachs in DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG, but he also appeared in the Met premiere of the French operas LOUISE (in 1921) and PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE (in 1925), and in the North American premiere of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's one-act opera VIOLANTA (on 5 November 1927).
He was to remain on the Met's roster of singers until May 14, 1932 when he retired in a dispute. He died on 19 December, 1932 in Manhattan.
Whitehill was notable for the tonal beauty of his large voice, the nobility of his singing style and the dignity of his stage demeanour. His diction, phrasing and enunciation were considered to be exemplary, while his interpretations were said to have a poignant intensity which set them apart from those of his contemporaries. Fortunately, Whitehill made a number of gramophone records prior to World War I which display something of his greatness as a Wagnerian singer.”
- Hans Lick