Forgotten Opera Singers
Sep 14, 2019
Miklos Gafni (Tenor) (Tiszacsege, Hungary 1923. 05. 28 – Queens, New York City 1981. 03. 08)
When the Nazis took over Hungary, Gafni was put into a concentration camp and condemned to death. He and others in the camp similarly awaitng death engaged in musical activities, and Gafni studied voice with one of his fellow-prisoners. The commandant of the camp was a music lover, and hearing Gafni sing, introduced him to German Lieder. He also spared Gafni from his ultimate fate, allowing him to survive the War. Still young, he returned home after the War and money was raised to send him to Italy to study. His teachers were Riccardo Stracciari and Aureliano Pertile, two of the finest singers of pre-War Italy. Gafni also received encouragement from Beniamino Gigli, and began to concertize in Italy. He then received concert engagements in England, Australia, and South Africa. He finally came to the United States, where he made his debut at Town Hall with great success, receiving the common accolade, "the young Caruso". His greatest claim to fame was in recording the first complete La Juive by Halevy, sponsored by a Jewish-American organization. Because of a limited operatic repertoire and technical deficiencies in his singing, he was not offered a contract with any major opera company, and returned to Hungary about 1960, where he is believed to have continued his vocal career.