Andrew Foldi (Hungarian: Földi András; 20 July 1926 – 21 November 2007) was a Hungarian-American bass baritone and educator whose singing career spanned four decades.
Foldi was born in Budapest, Hungary. As an infant, his highly musical grandmother recognized his perfect pitch, as he was humming Don Giovanni in key before his first words. Foldi fled Hungary in 1939 with his father, and was raised in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the University of Chicago, and studied voice with Martial Singher.
Foldi made his professional debut in 1954, as Biondello in Vittorio
Giannini's The Taming of the Shrew in the first season of the Lyric
Opera of Chicago. For his second professional performance, the young singer
was cast as Doctor Grenvil in La traviata starring Maria Callas
and Tito Gobbi.
He was selected by John Crosby as one of the original 14 cast members in
the inaugural 1957 season at the Santa Fe Opera, which included working
under the baton of Igor Stravinsky in Oedipus Rex. Foldi was selected
by intendant Herbert Graf as leading bass at the Zürich Opera in 1961.
Foldi established himself as a character actor of the first rank in other opera houses throughout Europe and the U.S., among them La Scala, Wiener Staatsoper, Züricher Opernhaus, Glyndebourne Opera, Cincinnati Zoo Opera. He created the roles of Mr. Parker in Norman Dello Joio's Blood Moon at San Francisco Opera (1961) and John W. Diller in Armin Schibler's dance-burlesque Blackwood & Co. (Das Jubliämsbett) at Zürich Opera (1962).
He made the first of his eighty-five appearances at the Metropolitan Opera in 1975, as Alberich in Das Rheingold. During his years on the roster, Foldi appeared as Schigolch in the company premieres of Alban Berg's Lulu (directed by John Dexter, 1977, which was published on DVD in 2010), and Dansker in Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd (1978) as well as playing Dr. Bartolo in the premiere of Günther Rennert's Met staging of Le Nozze di Figaro (1975). By the time his unforgettably seedy Schigolch shuffled through the Met premiere of Berg's opera, the role had become a career specialty for Foldi, who sang more than 100 performances of Lulu in San Francisco and Europe before his first New York Schigolch. Foldi continued to sing the role throughout the 1980s, with memorable appearances in Santa Fe (1980), Chicago (1987) and at the Met (1988). He was also well known for the comic part of the quack "snake oil" salesman, Dr. Dulcamara, in L'Elisir d'Amore by Gaetano Donizetti.
Foldi was also active as a teacher and as an author. In 1979, he joined the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music and went on to serve a decade-long tenure as the chairman and artistic director of its opera department. From 1991 until 1995, Foldi returned to Chicago's Lyric Opera as the Director of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists under General Director Ardis Krainik. In 1999, Leyerle published "Foldi's Opera: An Accident Waiting to Happen", a collection of humorous reminiscences.
== Names which are links in this box and below refer to my interviews elsewhere on this website. BD
Andrew Foldi at Lyric Opera of Chicago
1954 - Taming of the Shrew [Giannini] (Biondello) with Jordan, Thompson, White, Stewart, Gramm; Rescigno, Harrower, Ritholz
La Traviata (Dr. Grenvil) with Callas, Simoneau, Gobbi; Rescigno, Wymetal
Carmen (Zuniga) with Simionato, Picchi, Guelfi, Jordan; Perlea, Wymetal
Tosca (Sciarrone) with Steber, Di Stefano, Gobbi, Stewart, Badioli, William Mason (Shepherd Boy); Rescigno, Wymetal
1955 - La Bohème (Benoit) with Tebaldi, Di Stefano, Gobbi, Rossi-Lemeni, Lind; Serafin, Vassallo
Madama Butterfly (Commissioner) with Callas, Di Stefano, Weede, Caruso; Rescigno, Koyke
Rigoletto (Ceprano) with Gobbi, Bjoerling, Stich-Randall, Wildermann, Dunn, Ardis Krainik (Giovanna); Rescigno, Wymetal
Un Ballo in maschera (Tom) with Cerquetti, Bjoerling, Gobbi, Bonini, Turner, Wildermann; Rescigno, Wymetal
1956 - Fanciulla del west [Opening night] (Happy) with Steber, Del Monaco, Gobbi; Mitropoulos, Vassallo
Andrea Chénier (Fouquier-Tinville) with Steber, Del Monaco, Gobbi, Reynolds; Emerson Buckley, Vassallo
Salome (First Nazarene) with Borkh, Vinay, Welitsch, Lipton, Alexander; Solti, Wymetal
La Traviata (Dr. Grenvil) with Steber, Simoneau, Bastianini, Ardis Krainik (Annina); Bartoletti, Vassallo
Don Giovanni (Masetto) with Rossi-Lemeni, Corena, Steber, Likova/Lind, Simoneau, Wilson, Schõffler; Solti, Wymetal
Tosca (Sciarrone) with Tebaldi, Bjoerling, Gobbi, Badioli, William Mason (Shepherd Boy); Bartoletti/Kopp, Vassallo
1957 - Mignon (Jarno) with Simionato, Misciano, Moffo, Wildermann, Nadell; Gavazzeni, Baldridge
Manon Lescaut (Naval Captain) with Tebaldi, Bjoerling, MacNeil, Chabay, Velis; Serafin, Vassallo
Andrea Chénier (Fouquier-Tinville) with Tebaldi, Del Monaco, Gobbi, Ardis Krainik (Countess); Gavazzeni, Vassallo
Marriage of Figaro (Antonio) with Berry, Moffo, Steber, Gobbi, Simionato, Badioli, Nadell; Solti, Hartleb
Un Ballo in maschera (Tom) with Cerquetti, Bjoerling, Protti, Stahlman, Turner, Wildermann; Solti, Vassallo
Tosca (Sciarrone) with Steber, Di Stefano/Bjoerling, Gobbi, Badioli, William Mason (Shepherd Boy); Bartoletti, Vassallo
1958 - Gianni Schicchi (Spinelloccio) with Gobbi, Moffo, Misciano, Wildermann; Serafin, Piccinato
La Traviata (Dr. Grenvil) with Steber, Simoneau, Bastianini, Ardis Krainik (Annina); Serafin, Piccinato
Boris Godounov (Border Guard) with Christoff, Hoffman, Sullivan, Wildermann; Sebastian, Rosing
1959 - Cenerentola (Alidoro) with Rota, Monti, Corena, Gramm; Gavazzeni, Maestrini
Jenůfa (Mayor) with Brouwenstijn, Cassilly, Fischer, Ardis Krainik (Pastuchyňa); Matačič, West
Un Ballo in maschera (Tom) with Nilsson, Di Stefano, Gobbi, Stahlman, Kramarich, Harrower; Bartoletti, Maestrini
Gioconda (Monk) with Farrell, Tucker, Taddei, Dalis, Greindl, Kramarich; Bartoletti, Maestrini
1974 - Don Quichotte (Sancho) with Ghiaurov, Cortez, Paige; Fournet, Tajo, Samaritani
1987-88 - Lulu (Schigolch) with Malfitano, Trussel, Braun, Lear; Davies, Ljubimov
1992-93 - La Bohème (Benoit) with Mazzaria/Esham, Sabbatini/Farina, Summers, d'Arcangelo, Lawrence; Bartoletti, Mariani
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© 1990 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded in Chicago at the beginning of February, 1990. Portions were broadcast on WNIB at that time, and again in 1991. This transcription was made in 2021, and posted on this website at that time.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here. To read my thoughts on editing these interviews for print, as well as a few other interesting observations, click here.
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Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.