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Charles Hamm

revised by Kimberly Greene

(b London, England, March 20, 1774; d London, England, Feb 17, 1856). English tenor and composer. He made his debut as a boy soprano at Covent Garden in 1787. He sang in Europe after his voice broke, returning to England at the turn of the century, where he established a reputation as one of the country’s leading tenors. He traveled to the United States in the autumn of 1840 and, at the age of 68, “surpassed all expectations” with the “pathos, sublimity, power, and wonderful execution” of his voice. He appeared first in concert, with a selection of tenor and baritone airs from opera and oratorio mixed with popular ballads. His American operatic debut, at the Park Theatre in New York, was in Stephen Storace’s The Siege of Belgrade, and he went on to re-create many of his famous roles, in Charles Horn’s The Devil’s Bridge, Thomas Dibdin’s The Cabinet, and Weber’s Der Freischütz. At one point he astonished audiences and critics by appearing in seven demanding roles in less than two weeks....

Article

John Koegel

[Francisco Rafael ]

(b San Antonio, TX, May 16, 1883; d New York, NY, Dec 12, 1943). American operatic tenor and recitalist of Mexican and German heritage. He was the most prominent Mexican American opera singer of his day, although perhaps to advance his career he used the Italian-sounding first name “Rafaelo,” and press reports sometimes identified him as Spanish instead of Mexican American or Mexican. Díaz attended the German-English School and the West Texas Military Academy (now Texas Military Institute) in San Antonio. He studied piano with Amalia Hander, a local music teacher, and at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. After vocal studies with Vincenzo Sabatini in Milan, he returned to the United States and in 1911 began appearing in small roles with the Boston Grand Opera Company, quickly moving up to more prominent assignments. He accompanied the soprano Luisa Tetrazzini on a tour in 1913 and made his Metropolitan Opera debut in Massenet’s ...

Article

William Brooks

(b Dublin, Ireland, Jan 19, 1846; d Rochester, NY, March 19, 1916). Tenor of Irish birth. After studying with Henry Phillips in England he moved to Italy. He made his New York debut in 1871 with the Parepa-Rosa English Opera Company, and in the mid-1870s moved permanently to the United States as a singer of opera, light opera, and oratorio. He was a founding member of the Boston Ideal Opera Company (1887). During the next ten years he became one of the most popular tenors in the country, celebrated for a number of Gilbert and Sullivan roles and for the title role in De Koven’s Robin Hood. He retired in 1896 and taught in New York, then lived briefly in California before settling in Rochester about 1912. Karl possessed a light, lyric voice and considerable personal charm; his integrity and prestige contributed significantly to the popularization of light opera in the United States....