Born: August 18, 1873
Died: June 1, 1946
Slezak's international career commenced in London at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he sang Siegfried and Lohengrin in 1900. (He would return to Covent Garden in 1909 after undertaking further vocal studies in Paris with a great tenor of a previous era, Jean de Reszke.)
Slezak secured a three-year contract with the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1909. Met audiences acclaimed him in performances of works by Wagner and Verdi. Together with Giovanni Zenatello, he became the most famous Otello of his generation, famously performing the role at the Met with Arturo Toscanini conducting.
He was a convivial person, and many anecdotes reveal his sense of humour. The best-known example is as follows: during a performance of Wagner's Lohengrin, a stage hand sent the swan out too early, before the tenor could hop aboard. Seeing his feathered transportation disappear into the wings, Slezak ad-libbed to the audience: "Wann fährt der nächste Schwan?" ("When does the next swan leave?").
Slezak had a versatile repertory which embraced 66 roles. They included notably Rossini's Guillaume Tell, Manrico, Radames, Walter, Tannhäuser, Hermann and, as we have seen, Otello and Lohengrin. He sang 44 roles in Vienna alone, where he chalked up 936 appearances in 1901-12 and 1917-27. A tall man, he possessed a large and attractive lyric-dramatic voice which enabled him to undertake all but the very heaviest Wagnerian parts.
Leo Slezak died in Rottach-Egern in 1946, shortly after the loss of his beloved wife.
|a04-11||Slezak||Magische Tone||Queen of Sheba||1909||2.48|
|a04-13||Slezak||Ora Per Sempre||Otello||1912||2.19|
|a04-14||Slezak||Niun Mi Tema||Otello||1912||4.07|
|a04-18||NA||Slezak||Hier Soll Ich Dich||Seraglio||1907|