Nelson Eddy: His Career in Opera

Nelson Eddy's early career in opera is often over-shadowed by his days in Hollywood, but he spent years performing with the Philadelphia Opera Company, working with opera/music greats such as Maria Jeritza, Amelita Galli-Curci, Helen Jepson, Leopold Stokowski and Arturo Toscanini.

Below is a list showing many of Nelson Eddy's operatic rolls, along with contemporary reviews when available. Nelson knew over thirty opera rolls, but we've never found a complete list or definite count, so this is as close as we can get. You can also listen to Nelson sing some Opera arias, taken from various radio shows or recordings, in the column on the right.

Nelson's Opera Repertoire with Brief Reviews

AIDA - Amonasro
Feb. 12, 1925 Evening Buletin: "A most satisfying performance of Aida . . . was given at the Metropolitan last night by the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company. Nelson Eddy's singing of the part of Amonasro, the Ethiopian king, proved to be one of the revelations of the evening. Mr Eddy posesses to an unusual degree the faculty of making a character come to life."

I PAGLIACCI - Tonio and Silvio
March 17, 1928 Musical America: "At the close of the opera all of the principles except Eddy appeared before the curtain several times, and when Mr. Eddy did appear, it was quite evident what the audience had been waiting for, as the applause increased very noticeably. Mr. Eddy's excellent work with the Civic Company more than merits his popularity."

CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA - Alfio
Jan. 01, 1926 Evening Bulletin: "Mr. Eddy has won success in several important roles with the Civic Company, and always there is much to admire in his work. If his Alfio was somewhat lacking in robustness and authority, and his rich, sympathetic baritone did not seem heavy enough for some of the music he nevertheless gave an intelligent and competent portrayal."

LA NAVARRAISE - Bustamente

GIANNI SCHICCHI - Gianni Schicchi
Jan. 15, 1926 Philadelphia Enquirer: "Nelson Eddy, in the part of Gianni, undoubtedly gave the best performance of his career, he not only meeting every requirement of the vocal, but also grasped the full humor of the part."

SAMSON ET DELILAH - Abimelech & the High Priest
Jan. 31, 1930 Camden Record: "Mr. Eddy can always be relied on to do his utmost with any part assigned to him. As the High Priest he proved a master of voice and dramatics. The music of the part is as if it was written for his voice and therefore the results throughout were most satisfactory. There is no guess-work about Mr. Eddy's work; he knows thoroughly every role he essays."

TANNHAUSER - Wolfram
March 26, 1926 Evening Bulletin: "The biggest individual hit of the evening, judging by the audience's applause, was scored by Nelson Eddy, in his delivery of Wolfram's love song in the second act. His efforts stirred his hearers to continued hand-clapping which subsided only after he had 'stepped out of character' in order to bow two or three times."

MADAMA BUTTERFLY - Sharpless
Nov. 19, 1926 Philadelphia Inquirer: "Nelson Eddy has had the good fortune to have, in succession, two of the most beneficent of baritone parts, and last night made his Sharpless as sympathetic as his Wolfram had been one week before. This young Philadelphia singer not only has a voice of singular beauty, but the taste and intelligence in acting as well as singing which should insure him a notable career, as he gains in maturity."

ROMEO ET JULIETTE - Mercutio
Dec. 17, 1926 Evening Bulletin: "Nelson Eddy seemed quite 'at home' as Mercutio, his stride and his acting showing ease and self possession, and again was heard the rich quality of his splendid baritone."
The Record: "Nelson Eddy, who is always one of the assets of the Civic Opera, was far from his best form, suffering from laryngitis and being unable to sing to his fullest capacity . . . Eddy's acting in the role of Mercutio was enjoyable and he would have been an outstanding figure had he been in good voice."

LA BOHEME - Marcello
Jan. 01, 1926 Evening Bulletin: "Mr. Eddy has won success in several important roles with the Civic Company, and always there is much to admire in his work. If his Alfio was somewhat lacking in robustness and authority, and his rich, sympathetic baritone did not seem heavy enough for some of the music he nevertheless gave an intelligent and competent portrayal."

LOHENGRIN - Herald
March 25, 1927 The Inquirer: "Nelson Eddy gave outstanding interest to the very important role of the Herald."
The Record: "Nelson Eddy as the Herald was another singer who knew how to make every syllable heard."

FEUERSNOT - Hammerlein
Dec. 02, 1927 "Nelson Eddy made the most of limited opportunities."

SECRET OF SUZANNE - Count Gil
Dec. 09, 1927 Daily News: "Nelson Eddy played the husband. He has a scintillating baritone which Philadelphians enjoy. He seldom has difficulty in 'pulling down the house.' Last night was no exception. And, too, when he began to break the dishes, throw bric-a-brac, hurl books to the wall, the audience was convulsed."

L'AMORE DEI TRE RE - Manfredo
Jan. 13, 1928 Public Ledger: "The singing honors of the performance . . . were carried off by Nelson Eddy as Manfredo, his splendid voice showing to excellent advantage in the long solo at the beginning of the second act."
The Inquirer: "Nelson Eddy, as the mere husband, cut a far more romantic figure and sang far more admirably than did Paul Althouse as Avito. Mr. Eddy's make-up effected so complete a transformation, with a synthetic nose and dark wig, that he became a new personality, and sang with beauty, line and freedom of style."

ARIADNE AUF NAXOS - Wigmaker and Arlecchino
Nov. 02, 1928 Bulletin: "Nelson Eddy, as the wigmaker, had an opportunity to do smoe of the comedy work in which he excels and to use his fine baritone voice effectively."

DIE MEISTERSINGER - Kothner
Nov. 23, 1928 Bulletin: "Nelson Eddy's delightful baritone was used to good effect in the part of Kothner whom hemade a Falstaffian figure. His very inflection of the line 'Der Sanger Sits' (The Singer Sits) was enough to bring sounds of merriment from the audience."

MANON LESCAUT - Lescaut
Nov. 02, 1928 Bulletin: "It is surprising how easily Nelson Eddy fits into a variety of operatic roles. After successfully portraying one of Richard Wagner's Master Singers not long ago he last night essayed the part of Manon's drunken soldier-brother and made his character real and convincing."

MARRIAGE OF FIGARO - Count Almaviva
March 22, 1929 Record: "The contribution of Nelson Eddy, as Count Almaviva, must, moreover, take rank as a Mozart portrayal of the first order, lyrically refined and subtle."

L'ENFANT PRODIGUE - Simeon
April 05, 1929 Bulletin: "Nelson Eddy sang with richness of voice and a lyricism in keeping with the music."

ORFEO ED EURYDICE -

DAS RHEINGOLD - Donner
Jan. 30, 1930 Musical Courier: "Nelson Eddy, as Donner, was in beautiful voice and altogetherconvincing as the part."
Daily News: "Nelson Eddy is still the artist he has always been. Although his was not a long nor important bit, he evinced talent and voice."

GOTTERDAMMERUNG - Gunther
Jan. 17, 1930 Bulletin: "Some opera goers who are accustomed to consider Nelson Eddy as the possessor of a pleasant but light baritone, must have been surprised at his interpretation of Gunther, King of the Gibichungs. The wide tonal compass of this role was sung with richness and sonority with a genuine feeling spaciousness of the music and unusual beauty of tone. Histrionically Eddy was in keeping with tradition."

FAUST - Valentine

HANSEL AND GRETL - Peter
Dec. 20, 1931 The Inquirer: "Nelson Eddy was the tipsy father who never heard of prohibition. He was quite nice, with surprisingly smooth isnging voice and quite a cultivated vocabulary, too, for a woodchopper."

THE MAGIC FLUTE - Papageno
Feb. 22, 1930 Ledger: "Nelson Eddy was an excellent Papageno, realizing to the full the comic aspects of the role, and singing as well as he acted."

L'ELISIR D'AMORE - Belcore
March 08, 1930 Musical Courier: "Nelson Eddy, as Belcore, was highly satisfactory. His smooth, rich baritone voice is a joy at all times and this performance was no exception. His acting as the dashing soldier was also good."

ELEKTRA - Orestes
Nov. 08, 1931 Musical America: "Nelson Eddy, making his debut as a member of the company, was a stately and rich-toned Orestes, with a valid conception of the character of a sane avenger. His scene with Elektra was one of the supreme moments of the presentation."

WOZZECK - Drum Major (Dramatic Tenor)
Nov. 25, 1931 The Inquirer: "Mr. Eddy portrayed his part with excellent art, and sang as well as the music permitted." Record: "Mr. Eddy did more, vocally, with the part than the artists of the premiere lineup -- and any vocal accomplishment in Wozzeck is worth a headline."
New York American: "Nelson Eddy as the romantic Drum Major deserved commendation. Whether or not any of these artists sang in tune or sharp or flat, it is not safe to say. The music disarmed the listener on that score."

MARIA EGIZIACA - Abbot Zosimo and Pilgrim
March 25, 1932 Musical America: "As the Pilgrim and Zosimo, Nelson Eddy sang glowingly and proved himself a highly gifted actor as well. He is one of the best baritones of the day."

SALOME - Jochanahan
Nov. 19, 1932 Musical Courier: "The richness and perfect evenness of his voice, as well as the intelligence he displays in his singing, have made him in a periode of only a few seasons one of the outstanding and most promising of the American list of singers."
Nov. 10, 1932 World Telegram: "Nelson Eddy sang bravely as the much beset prophet, but his fine, fresh baritone is still a trifle light for the arduous duties of Strauss' Jochanahan."
Nov. 10, 1932 New Yorker Magazine: "The words of Jochanahan in the seduction scene were sung admirably by Nelson Eddy, who doubled efficiently as announcer of election returns." [FDR won his first of four presidential terms.]

PARSIFAL - Gurnemanz (Base)