3 July 2012
Calvin Marsh, Stalwart Met Baritone During '50s and '60s, Has Died
Renovo, PA, February 11, 1921 — Dallas, TX, June 18, 2012
After studies at Westminster Choir and North Texas State University and three years' military service in the South Pacific during World War II, the baritone won the Metropolitan Opera's Auditions of the Air, receiving a Met contract for the 1954–55 season. Marsh's 1954 Met debut was as Konrad Nachtigall in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. He remained with the Met through the beginning of the 1965–66 season, singing 911 performances of fifty-eight roles in New York and on tour. Marsh's most frequent Met appearances were as Nachtigall, Baron Douphol in La Traviata, the Sergeant in La Bohème, the Commissioner in Madama Butterfly and Moralès in Carmen. In 1966, Marsh made his Glyndebourne debut, as Hamor in Handel's Jephtha. The following year, he briefly rejoined the Met for the 1967 Newport Festival, singing a final di Luna in Il Trovatore, and made his New York City Opera debut, as Tonio to Plácido Domingo's Canio in a new Pagliacci production. Marsh stayed on the NYCO roster for three seasons. He also sang in Munich, Geneva and Mexico City and was a frequent soloist with the Robert Shaw Chorale.
At a Billy Graham Crusade in Madison Square Garden, Marsh made a "decision for Christ" that changed the focus of his life. He left the professional stage, embarking upon a series of tours with several accompanists, presenting concerts of hymns and sacred vocal works. He also sang as soloist in oratorios and frequently performed the role of Peter in Jerome Hines's opera, I Am the Way. Marsh remained active as a professional church soloist throughout the Dallas area, continuing to sing until the time of his death, at age ninety-one.
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Photo: Calvin Marsh as Baron Douphol from 1957 Met performances of Traviata
Louis Mélancon/OPERA NEWS Archives