József Gábor (1879-1929)
Opera singer (tenorist), actor, director. He was born in Balassagyarmat, in 1879 (or as it is written on his gravestone, in 1880), he died in Illéspuszta (today Iliasov, Slovakia) in 14. May, 1929. Younger brother of Dr. Gyula Gábor, jurist, historian.
He started his career as an actor, finished Theatre Academy, then in 1899 he became a member of Vígszínház (Comedy Theatre) in Budapest. He also played in several operettas in the Népszínház (People's Theatre). On the autumn of 1900 he signed a contract to the Hungarian State Opera. In 1908 he moved to Italy to study. He sang in Berlin, Milan, and in the Volksoper in Vienna. In 1913 he came home and contracted again to the National Opera where he worked as a private opera singer until his death.
For the financial support of the Opera he established the Society of Friends of Opera in 1922 (later its name has changed to Hungarian Association of the Friends of Opera)
Beside his career as a singer he worked also as a director in the season of 1926–27.
He translated Menyhért Lengyel's drama "Typhoon" to Italian and it was played in Italy.
He was one of the most important hungarian singer, and later singing master for decades around the years of World War I. His flexible voice, musicality, playing, versatility made him a singer who was perfect for a wide range of roles: he played the leading roles of Wagner's operas (Tannhäuser. Parsifal etc.), great characters (King Herod, David, Loge), from the lyric tenor figures (Rodolphe) to the buffo roles (Pedrillo) he played almost the entire range of the genre during his career.
Among his pupils we have to mention the name of Kálmán Pataky (1896-1964) who was one of the famoust hungarian tenorists in the 20th Century.
His main roles:
- Loge (Wagner: Das Rheingold);
- Tannhäuser (Wagner: Tannhäuser);
- David (Wagner:Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg);
- King Herod (R. Strauss: Salome);
- Pedrillo (Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail).
- Rodolphe (Puccini: La Bohéme)
- Eisenstein (J. Strauss Jr: Die Fledermaus);
His main directing:
- Stravinsky: Petrushka (1926).
- Hungarian Jewish Lexikon. Ed by Péter Ujvári, Budapest: Magyar Zsidó Lexikon. 1929. p. 302. Reach online
- Hungarian Biographic Lexicon
- Hungarian Lexikon of Theatre
- Péter Várnai's Lexicon of Opera
- Wikipedia (in Hungarian)