A Metropolitan Opera legend has died, aged 97

Irene Jordan, who opened the 1947 Met season as Lakmé before upgrading to coloratura soprano, has died in Dalton MA at the great age of 97.

Before she even won her Met debut she was spotted by NBC and awarded her own weekly show, Songs by Irene.

Leonard Bernstein nominated her in 1961 as one of the Top Ten American Performing Artists.

She went on to marry Arnold Caplan, a first violinist in the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, and have four children.

 

irene jordan

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      • Dear Mr Lebrecht,

        You write: she debuted AS Lakmé and I think you mean IN Lakmé.
        She was a mezzo then indeed and sang Mallika.

        LAKMÉ {55}
        Delibes-Gondinet/Gille

        Lakmé……………….Lily Pons
        Gérald………………Raoul Jobin
        Mallika……………..Irene Jordan [Debut]
        Frédéric…………….Martial Singher
        Nilakantha…………..Giacomo Vaghi
        Hadji……………….John Carter
        Ellen……………….Marita Farell
        Rose………………..Maxine Stellman
        Mrs. Bentson…………Thelma Votipka
        Fortuneteller………..Lodovico Oliviero
        Merchant…………….Anthony Marlowe
        Thief……………….William Hargrave
        Dance……………….Marina Svetlova
        Dance……………….Peggy Smithers
        Dance……………….Leon Varkas

        Conductor……………Louis Fourestier [Debut]

        Director…………….Désiré Defrère
        Set designer…………Joseph Novak
        Choreographer………..Boris Romanoff

      • She didn’t sing Lakme, according to the Met archives, but Mallika who is indeed a mezzo.

        The oddity is that after a couple of seasons singing mainly mezzo comprimario parts she disappeared from the Met for nine years before reappearing for a single performance as Queen of Night – which apparently didn’t go well…

        • I know and will share a little story about the night of Irene Jordan’s performance of the Queen of the Night at the Met. Firstly, she had become, from all of her earlier years at the Met, very accustomed to be personally walked from her dressing room to the stage by a top official at the right time. The night of her performance of the Queen of the Night, Miss Jordan was treated with a lack of consideration. She actually was told very late that her time on stage was at hand. She literally had to run, with the huge gown in hand, to get on the stage just in time. She was out of breath, indeed!

          The whole story of how Irene Jordan finally came to sing again at the Met, for that performance, is very involved. But that will be for another time.

  • With no disrespect intended, she was not a “legend” by any stretch of the imagination. At her debut, she sang the mezzo-soprano role of Mallika in Lakmé, and not the title role. Between 1946 – 1948 at the Met she sang Feodor in Boris Godunov, an Orphan in Der Rosenkavlier, the Page in Rigoletto, Boy in the world premiere of The Warrior, Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, a Flower Maiden in Parsifal, Flora in La traviata, a Genie in Die Zauberflöte, the Shepherd in Tosca, Blanche in Louise, and Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana. After an absence of 9 years, she returned in 1957 to sing a single performance of The Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte.

  • well that was at the start of her career. Just read olin Downes review of her Eglantine performance featured in the clip above mentioned. And the late Robert Tuggle told me that her lady Macbeth was absolutely stunning and of world class….Two legendary performances….which makes her a legend at least for those

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