Blanche Thebom 1915-2010 One of the greatest leading operatic mezzo-sopranos, died on March 23 at home. Born in Monessen, Pa. and raised in Canton, Ohio Ms. Thebom sang in a church choir as a youngster and later had an outstanding 22 yr. career with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Her debut in 1944 as Brangane in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde was enthusiastically reviewed by the New York Times: " Ms. Thebom scored an immediate success... remarkable....magnetic" . Her impressive career included 356 performances in 28 roles in 27 works. She first appeared with the San Francisco Opera as Carmen in 1951 to rave reviews. Her career included two command performances before the Queen of England and in 1957, & she was the first American artist to sing at the Bolshoi Opera in Moscow. She performed in Opera houses throughout Europe and the U.S. and is remembered especially for her Dorabella in Mozart's Cosi fan Tutti. Her great vocal talent was combined with a skillful stage intensity & striking good looks that wowed her audiences. Because of her remarkable musical career, she was awarded an honorary Doctorate degree by Uppsala College. After retiring from the Met, Ms. Thebom was appointed head of the Southern Opera Company in Atlanta . Subsequently , she directed the music program at the Univ. of Arkansas and created a Puppet Opera Theatre that was enormously popular with young and old alike. "Ms. T" then moved to San Francisco where she helped establish and enrich the San Francisco Girls Chorus. She loved teaching young gifted female singers not only about training their voice, but also about stage presence, posture, & presentation. Described by her students as devoted, disciplined, & dedicated, Ms. Thebom had an elegant presence that impressed everyone she knew. On stage and off stage, Ms. Thebom has left an indelible memory as one of the last great Divas and will be missed by all those who loved her.
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Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Mar. 28, 2010