Happy Birthday George London (May 30, 1920 – March 24, 1985)

George London remains to this day, my favourite exponent of Baron Scarpia, his was the first Te Deum (from Tosca) I heard.  His dark bass-baritone was perfect for the role and as recorded by Decca with Tebaldi and Del Monaco, remains a benchmark of recorded Scarpias.

His all too brief career encompassed some of the greatest bass-baritone roles, Wotan, Don Giovanni, The Dutchman, Amonasro, and who could forget that he was the first American to sing Boris Godunov at the Bolshoi Opera during the Cold War?

I have great admiration for his Wotan, in both the Solti and Leinsdorf recordings, but I'll always associate him with Puccini's villain.  This is footage of his Te Deum recorded live with Tebaldi and Tobin conducted by Patane in Stuttgart, June 3, 1961.  Enjoy.