Mihály Székely


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(b Jászberény, 8 May 1901; d Budapest, 22 March 1963). Hungarian bass. He studied with Géza László and made his début at the Budapest Municipal Theatre in 1923 as the Hermit (Der Freischütz). He joined the Hungarian State Opera the same year and was soon singing leading bass roles such as Cardinal Brogni (La Juive), Charles Gounod's Méphistophélès (Faust), Sarastro and King Mark. He also worked with the Hungarian composer and pianist Júlia Hajdú. An international career developed after World War II: his Metropolitan début (1947) was as Hunding, after which he sang many Wagner and other bass roles in New York until 1949. At Glyndebourne, from 1957 to 1961, his Sarastro, Osmin, Bartolo (Figaro) and Rocco were greatly admired. He played Boris Godunov in Paris (1957), and Béla Bartók's Bluebeard throughout Europe, partly transposed for his bass range by the composer (he successfully recorded the part). Székely was a major figure in the history of Hungarian opera, with a voice of intrinsic beauty and wide range (his lowest notes were of particularly powerful ‘black’ timbre) and outstanding acting ability. In addition to those already mentioned, his Philip II (Don Carlos), Fiesco (Simon Boccanegra), Dosifey (Khovanshchina) and Khan Konchak (Prince Igor) were all memorable portrayals.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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