Theodor Uppman, Original Billy Budd, Dies

Classic Arts News   Theodor Uppman, Original Billy Budd, Dies
Baritone Theodor Uppman, who created the title role in Benjamin Britten's 1951 opera Billy Budd, died March 17, the New York Times reports. He was 85 years old.

He also created roles in Carlisle Floyd's Passion of Jonathan Wade and Thomas Pasatieri's Black Widow, among other new operas.

Uppman, born in San Jose, California, studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, and made his New York City Opera debut in 1948 in the role of Pell_as in a concert performance of Debussy's Pell_as and M_lisande.

In 1951, discouraged with his career, Uppman took a job with a California oil and fuel company, where he worked until he was invited to audition for the role of Billy Budd in Covent Garden's premiere of the opera.

He later repeated the role for broadcast on NBC.

In 1953, Uppman again sang Pell_as, this time for his Metropolitan Opera debut, and later sang such roles as Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Piquillo in Offenbach's La P_richole, and Harlequin in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. Altogether, he gave nearly 400 performances with the Met.

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