A Look at Gianni Raimondi & Siegfried Jerusalem’s Contrasting Careers At the Metropolitan Opera

By David Salazar

Gianni Raimondi and Siegfried Jerusalem had nothing in common, except for the fact that they were both tenors and also share a birthday, April 17.

Those who have read past articles know that we often turn this into a “What Roles did they Share” kind of piece, but unfortunately, there is nothing to put together for these two singular artists.

But they both shared careers at the Metropolitan Opera, and thanks to the company’s extensive database, we can look back at their respective careers at the premiere company. Here is what the two tenors did in New York through their careers.

Gianni Raimondi

Born in 1923, the Italian specialized in his native language repertoire. His Met debut came in 1965 in “La Bohème” on Sept. 29. Also debuting on that same night was an “obscure” soprano called Mirella Freni. Of the 44 performances he had at the Met, Puccini’s masterwork would take up exactly half of all his showings, clocking in at 22 presentations.

His second opera at the Met was “Lucia di Lammermoor,” which he would perform only twice in 1965.

Among his other works at the Met would be “Madama Butterfly (three times),” “Faust (five),” “Tosca (eight),” and “Rigoletto (four).” His final opera performance at the Metropolitan Opera came on June 5, 1969, in “Rigoletto.” Shockingly, he only got four years with the company.

Siegfried Jerusalem 

The German tenor was at the house for far more years throughout his career, singing there for 24 years in 60 performances. Where Raimondi specialized in the Italian repertoire, Jerusalem was the Wagnerian go-to for the company.

He made his debut on Jan. 10, 1980 in the title role of “Lohengrin.” He sang the role three times that season, never to take it on again at the house. From there it was “Ring Cycle” galore. He sang 21 performances of “Das Rheingold,” six of “Siegfried,” and three of “Gotterdammerung.” There were also five “Parsifal” performances in 1992.

But he did explore other repertoire including “Idomeneo (eight times)” and Strauss’ “Elektra” and “Salome;” he sang three “Elektras” and capped his career at the Met with six presentations of “Salome” in 2004.

Also worthy of note is that he took on the role of Eisenstein in “Die Fledermaus” in 1991.


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