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Vilhelm Herold

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Vilhelm Herold was as widely appreciated for his prowess as an actor as he was for his purely vocal gifts. His 1892 audition for the Kongelige (Royal) Theater in Copenhagen was a failure -- he was considered too nondescript; nonetheless, the director, Johan Svendsen (also known as a composer), arranged for him to debut the next year in the title role of Gounod's Faust. He made his first appearance in the United States later that year, in the World's Fair in Chicago. He remained a regular with the Kongelige Theater, at which he was named a Kammersänger in 1901, until 1903, when he began studies in Paris with Giovanni Sbriglia. He made his Covent Garden debut in 1904 as Lohengrin. After his return to Copenhagen, he continued to sing at the Kongelige Theater and even ran his own company there for a year. He retired fairly early in his career, at the age of 50, in 1915. From 1922 to 1924, he was the opera director at the Kongelige Theater, and he also taught extensively; Lauritz Melchior was his most notable pupil. He also recorded widely -- including some selections of Danish song -- and sculpted. (Like Caruso, he was also a fine caricaturist.) While his voice was not as large as that of Jean de Reszke, to whom he was often compared, it had extensive carrying power and focus, enabling him to venture into the lyric Wagner roles as well as his core repertoire of Italian and French opera.

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