The Tenor Who Gave 2,928 Metropolitan Opera Performances

The Metropolitan Opera in New York City keeps records of its performances in the Metropolitan Opera Archives.

Every performer, whether a singer, conductor or dancer, who has appeared in more than 100 performances with the opera is listed in the archives. The list is extensive, and many famous stars are listed there.

Among the immediately recognized are conductor James Levine (2531 appearances), tenor Enrico Caruso (863 appearances), tenor Placido Domingo (673 appearances), tenor Luciano Pavarotti (378 appearances), conductor Arturo Toscanini (480 appearances), soprano Renata Scotto (314 appearances), mezzo soprano Frederica von Stade (300 appearances), mezzo soprano Marilyn Horne (252 appearances) and soprano Renee Fleming (247 appearances).

These are just a few of the hundred or so who have earned a spot in the archives of one of the most important performing organization in the world. It is fascinating to contemplate the vast amount of fame necessary to appear and the subsequent popularity resulting from having done so.

But, what of the many who have appeared, and for a myriad of reasons may be less well known?

Who was the performer who was talented and skilled, and produced a lifetime of appearances totaling the most with the organization? This man, as of September 25, 2015, was tenor Charles Anthony. His first performance was on March 6, 1954 and his last on January 28, 2010.

Charles Anthony was born Charles Anthony Caruso of Sicilian parents. He studied music in New Orleans, where he was a Loyola University student, and he made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in Boris Godunov in 1954 playing the role of the Simpleton.

He did such an excellent job as a character singer, that he became a distinguished comprimario singer.

A comprimario singer is one who takes on the important smaller, supporting roles. The Italian words “con primario” are translated into English meaning “with the primary”.

Anthony was featured in the popular telecasts of the Metropolitan Opera. He appeared with famous singers and conductors throughout his career.

These included the 1979 Otello, the 1981 Il trittico, the 1982 Der Rosenkavalier with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the 1983 Don Carlos opposite Placido Domingo, the 1983 Ermani with Luciani Pavarotti, the 1988 Ariadne auf Naxos and many, many more.

His numerous performances are testimony to his talents as a supporting actor and singer.

Anthony also made several notable studio recordings for the Metropolitan Opera Record Club. These included excerpts from Les contes d’Hoffmann, Don Pasquale, Pagliacci, La traviata, and Aida with Levine as conductor.

Some reprised roles he had previous sung on stage opposite Maria Callas and Placido Domingo.

During his lifetime he was awarded when he broke the record number of performances previously held by George Cehanosky.

Anthony had performed for over 56 seasons of the opera. He was an honorary member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. He celebrated 50 years with the opera company in 2004.

His farewell performance with the opera was in Turandot. He played the role of Emperor Altoum. He was born on July 15, 1929 and died on February 15, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. He was 82 years old.

Singers understand the dedication to the musical craft which distinguishes a musician such as Charles Anthony Caruso.

Though he shortened his name to avoid comparisons with the legendary Enrico Caruso, and though his career was perhaps less front and center, he nevertheless contributed to the opera in the way that consummate professional musicians do.

He performed at the highest levels; singing for a lifetime. Bravo!