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Bispham, David (Scull)

opera english american baritone

Bispham, David (Scull), American baritone; b. Philadelphia, Jan. 5, 1857; d. N.Y., Oct. 2, 1921. He first sang as an amateur in church choruses in Philadelphia. In 1886 he went to Italy, where he studied with Vannuccini in Florence and Francesco Lamperti in Milan; later studied in London with Shakespeare and Randegger. He made his operatic debut as Longueville in Messager’s La Basoche (English Opera House, London, Nov. 3, 1891), in which his comic acting ability, as well as his singing, won praise. He made his first appearance in serious opera as Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde (Drury Lane, June 25, 1892). He was particularly effective in the Wagnerian baritone roles; made his American debut with the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. as Beckmesser (Nov. 18, 1896), and was on the Metropolitan roster 1896-97, 1898-99, and 1900-03. He was a strong advocate of opera in English. A Soc. of American Singers was organized under his guidance, presenting light operas in the English language. He publ. an autobiography, A Quaker Singer’s Recollections (N.Y., 1920). A Bispham Memorial Medal Award was established by the Opera Soc. of America in 1921 for an opera in English by an American composer.

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