The Mighty Voice of Kurt Baum
Kurt Baum has always held a special place in my heart, because he was the first great opera singer I heard. I was 17 years old, which has been a very long time ago. I was listening to the radio one Saturday afternoon, when the Texaco Opera Theater came on. It was the first opera I had ever heard. It was Aida, and Rhadames was being sung by none other than the great Kurt Baum. I simply could not believe what I was hearing. I didn’t know such voices existed. I knew” Celeste Aida” from having played it on the piano, but hearing Baum sing the phrase“un trono, vicino al sol “ as he brought the great aria to its thundering ending was a totally new experience for a 17 year old with no experience at all in opera. I never looked back. It’s still one of my favorite arias. This might be a good place to start:
Not the most beautiful voice in opera, but one of the mightiest in the business!
Baum was born in Prague in 1908, and became famous for his 25 seasons at the Met as a superb House Tenor who was always available, always good and always popular with with the Met audience. His huge repertoire included Aida, Rosenkavalier, Trovatore, Lohengrin, Pagliacci, Carmen,Tosca / Turridu, Samson, and many, many others, including William Tell. Here is the stunning “O Muto Asil:”
What an extraordinary voice! He always sang at full blast and always drew great attention to himself. There were very few voices like it!