Calvin Marsh | From Met to church, 91

Posted: July 12, 2012

Calvin Marsh, 91, a lyric baritone who sang more than 900 performances with the New York Metropolitan Opera before forsaking the stage for a life in religious music, died June 18 in Dallas.

The cause was a stroke, a son-in-law said.

Mr. Marsh made his Met debut in 1954 as Nachtigall in Wagner's Meistersinger von Nurnberg and remained a company stalwart for more than a decade, mostly in secondary parts, until 1967.

He was born Feb. 11, 1921, in Renovo, in north-central Pennsylvania; while in high school, he answered a want ad recruiting singers for a church choir in Trenton.

He went on to attend Westminster Choir College in Princeton. After service on Guam with the Army Air Forces in World War II, he completed his vocal training in New York in the music division of the American Theater Wing.

In 1957, after attending one of the Rev. Billy Graham's crusades, he resolved to dedicate his career to Christian music, a decision that would culminate in his choosing to leave the Met a decade later.

In the mid-1960s and later, he toured as part of a vocal-piano duo under the aegis of the American Board of Missions to the Jews, of which he was a staff missionary. The organization, now known as Chosen People Ministries, evangelizes among American Jews.

One of the very few stage roles he continued to sing was Simon Peter in I Am the Way, an opera on the life of Jesus by Jerome Hines, a Met colleague. - N.Y. Times News Service

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