LAURITZ MELCHIOR, Danish-born American opera singer died (b. 1890); The famous Danish Heldentenor was virtually a household name in the 1930’s and 40’s, first because of his Tristan played to Kirsten Flagstad’s Isolde at the Met, and later for his appearances in some of MGM’s very worst musicals in which he was to opera exactly what José Iturbe was to classical piano playing. One wonders what clean-thinking Louis B. Mayer would have thought had he known that the former opera star, now solving the adolescent love problems of Jane Powell, had once been the lover of novelist Hugh Walpole.
Walpole, in fact, had been Melchior’s patron (in return for services rendered) and reputedly became hysterical when the singer left him, claiming that he liked women better, after all. Melchior’s new persuasion, however, didn’t prevent him from regularly sharing the shore leaves of an American sailor with his spiritual brother, poet Hart Crane. Melchior died just two days short of his 83rd birthday on March 20.