Personalities | Jussi Björling | Modern Era | Opera
For sheer beauty of tone, Jussi Björling may have been the greatest lyric tenor of the twentieth century. He began singing professionally at the age of nine in the Björling Male Quartet, with his father and two brothers. He made his debut at the Royal Stockholm Opera in 1930 as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and his international career took off immediately. In 1938, he made his Met debut as Rudolfo in La bohème. His reign at the Met lasted until 1959 when he walked out in a dispute over salary, but the rave reviews he received for his Carnegie Hall concert the next year solidified his legendary stature. Plagued by health problems, depression and alcoholism, he was ordered to rest, yet he was still singing when he succumbed to his final heart attack aged 49.
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