Paul Franke (1917 – 2011)

American tenor who shone in secondary roles dies aged 93

Tenor Paul Franke has died in his home in Queens, New York, at the age of 93.

Born in Boston, he studied at the New England Conservatory and was a singer at Radio City Music Hall before successfully auditioning for the Metropolitan Opera.

Franke made his Met debut in 1948 as the Youth in L’Amore dei Tre Re by Italo Montemezzi, where he went on to perform a total of 1,980 times. His final performance was as Thierry in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites in 1987.

The tenor specialised in comprimario or secondary roles. But the reduced vocal wear of a comprimario allowed his career to be twice as long as that of many principal singers.

His roles at The Met included the Witch in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, Bob Boles in Britten’s Peter Grimes and David in Wagner’s Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

As well as his engagements at The Met, Franke also appeared with the Santa Fe opera and on many recordings.

Franke is survived by four children and one grandchild.

Stella Lorenz