London (Burnstein, Burnsun), George

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LONDON (Burnstein, Burnsun), GEORGE

LONDON (Burnstein, Burnsun), GEORGE (1920–1985), bass-baritone singer. Born in Montreal, London studied in Los Angeles where his first professional appearance, as Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata, was at the Hollywood Bowl (1941). Forced to support himself by performing light music and appearing in operetta, he began an international career with his debut at the Vienna State Opera in 1949. Thereafter he became world-renowned for his performances in operas by Wagner (at many Bayreuth seasons between 1951 and 1964) but his repertoire included also Don Giovanni, Gounod's Méphistophélès, the multiple villains in Les contes d'Hoffmann, the Dutchman, Scarpia, Mandryka (which he recorded impressively under *Solti), and the title role in Menotti's Le dernier sauvage. He was the first non-Russian to sing the title role in Boris Godunov at the Bolshoi, Moscow, in 1960; and he was awarded the title of Kammersaenger by the Austrian government in 1954. In later years (from 1968) he concentrated on opera house administration, and was appointed artistic administrator of the John F. Kennedy Center, Washington (1968), and general director of the Los Angeles Music Center Opera Association (1971). In his prime, London had few equals as a Wagnerian Heldenbariton of power and majesty.

add. bibliography:

Grove online; T. Page: Obituary, The New York Times (March 26, 1985).

[Max Loppert /

Israela Stein (2nd ed.)]