Music: Hello at the Met

Two weeks before its opener last fall, the Metropolitan Opera found itself in a jam. Boris Christoff, the Bulgarian basso who was scheduled to sing King Philip in the opening-night Don Carlo, had been turned down for a visa. Met Manager Rudolf Bing had to gamble, and gamble fast. He staked his show on a 28-year-old singer named Cesare Siepi, who was almost unknown outside Italy. Handsome young Basso Siepi has turned out to be one of the best bets any opera manager ever made.

A golden basso cantante (a lyric bass rather than a growler) with a natural authority onstage, Siepi...

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