David Scull Bispham

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Bispham, David (Scull)

Bispham, David (Scull), American baritone; b. Philadelphia, Jan. 5, 1857; d. N.Y., Oct. 2, 1921. He first sang as an amateur in church choruses in Philadelphia. In 1886 he went to Italy, where he studied with Vannuccini in Florence and Francesco Lamperti in Milan; later studied in London with Shakespeare and Randegger. He made his operatic debut as Longueville in Messager’s La Basoche (English Opera House, London, Nov. 3, 1891), in which his comic acting ability, as well as his singing, won praise. He made his first appearance in serious opera as Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde (Drury Lane, June 25, 1892). He was particularly effective in the Wagnerian baritone roles; made his American debut with the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. as Beckmesser (Nov. 18, 1896), and was on the Metropolitan roster 1896-97, 1898-99, and 1900-03. He was a strong advocate of opera in English. A Soc. of American Singers was organized under his guidance, presenting light operas in the English language. He publ. an autobiography, A Quaker Singer’s Recollections (N.Y., 1920). A Bispham Memorial Medal Award was established by the Opera Soc. of America in 1921 for an opera in English by an American composer.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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David Scull Bispham (bĬs´pəm), 1857–1921, American baritone, b. Philadelphia. He made his operatic debut in London in 1891 and was leading Wagnerian baritone of the Metropolitan Opera Company, New York City, from 1896 to 1903. He advocated English translation of foreign operas and supported native opera in English. In 1921 the Opera Society of America established the Bispham Memorial Medal Award for American composers of such operas.

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Bispham, David (Scull) (b Philadelphia, 1857; d NY, 1921). Amer. baritone. Eng. début 1891 (Longueville in Messager's La Basoche); CG début 1892; sang Kurwenal in Tristan under Mahler, Drury Lane, 1892; NY Met début 1896. Determined advocate of opera in English.