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Loyola mourns the passing of alumnus, famed opera singer Charles Anthony

Loyola press release - February 17, 2012

The Loyola University New Orleans community today mourns the loss of alumnus Charles Anthony ‘51, H‘04, an acclaimed opera tenor who died Wednesday at the age of 82. He set the record for most appearances at the Metropolitan Opera—2,928—during a career that spanned from 1954 to 2010. According to a Metropolitan Opera spokesperson, Anthony died at his home in Tampa, Fla., from kidney failure following a long illness.

In May 2004, Loyola presented Anthony with an honorary doctorate degree of music, and in 2007, the Charles Anthony Caruso Distinguished Professorship in Opera was established in Loyola’s College of Music and Fine Arts.

“Many members of the Loyola community were honored to be with Charles at the Metropolitan Opera when he celebrated his record-breaking performance. Loyola also was able to present Charles with an honorary doctorate in music at commencement during the same year,” said Ed Kvet, D.M.E., provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Like the opera world, the Loyola community will miss Charles and his gift to opera.”

Anthony also presented an opera masterclass at Loyola, and it was then that voice professor Phil Frohnmayer was able to spend some time with him. “He was a very positive individual and had the ability to empower the kids to sing better just by his reactions to their performances,” Frohnmayer said. “His love of singing and the stage was infectious. He had an extremely generous spirit, and we will miss him.”

Calogero Antonio Caruso was born on July 15, 1929, to Italian immigrants in New Orleans. He began performing with the New Orleans Opera House Association chorus as a young teen in the mid-1940s. After graduating from Loyola, he entered the Metropolitan Opera’s Auditions of the Air competition for promising young singers in 1952. When he reached the semifinals, Rudolf Bing, the company’s domineering general manager, feared that the public would assume that Anthony was related to famed tenor Enrico Caruso, and told him he had to choose another name. Anthony complied, winning the competition as Charles Anthony.

Anthony made his Met debut as the Simpleton in Mussorsky's "Boris Godunov" on March 6, 1954. As a supporting singer, he shared the stage with some of the world’s most renowned classical artists, performing in the Metropolitan Opera’s debuts of Marian Anderson, Birgit Nilsson, Franco Corelli, Joan Sutherland and Jose Carreras, among others.

In 57 seasons Anthony played 111 roles in 69 operas, including three parts in Puccini’s “Turandot” alone, including that of the Emperor, with which he made his farewell on Jan. 28, 2010.

On Feb. 17, 1992, during a performance of Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” in which he sang the role of the courtier Borsa, Anthony was honored onstage for breaking the record for the number of appearances, then held by baritone George Cehanovsky. He was celebrated again on March 6, 2004, the 50th anniversary of his Met debut. That night he sang Spoletta in Puccini’s “Tosca,” one of his 135 performances in the role.

Survivors include his wife, Eleanor; son, Anthony Caruso; daughters Anna Beth Burgmeier and Barbara Liriano; seven grandchildren; and two great grandchildren. A private funeral is scheduled for Saturday.

For more information, contact Jess Brown in Loyola’s Office of Public Affairs at jlbrown@loyno.edu or call 504-861-5882.