Charles R. Adams

Charles R. Adams

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Charles R. Adams was an American opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 singer and singing instructor. An excellent tenor
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...

 and fine actor, he had a commanding stage presence and was particularly admired for his interpretations of the works of Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...



Adams was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts
Charlestown, Massachusetts
Charlestown is a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, United States, and is located on a peninsula north of downtown Boston. Charlestown was originally a separate town and the first capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; it became a city in 1847 and was annexed by Boston on January 5, 1874...

, in 1834, the son of Charles Adams and Eliza Ann Runey Adams. He studied music in Boston under Edwin Bruce, Mme. Arnault, and R. Mulder. In 1856, he was the tenor soloist in Joseph Haydn
Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...

's oratorio
An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias...

 The Creation, with the Handel and Haydn Society
Handel and Haydn Society
The Handel and Haydn Society is an American chorus and period instrument orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1815, it remains one of the oldest performing arts organizations in the United States.-Early history:...

, and went on to tour the United States and the West Indies from 1856 through 1861.

He moved to Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 where he studied with Carlo Barbieri and sang lead tenor roles at the Vienna State Opera
Vienna State Opera
The Vienna State Opera is an opera house – and opera company – with a history dating back to the mid-19th century. It is located in the centre of Vienna, Austria. It was originally called the Vienna Court Opera . In 1920, with the replacement of the Habsburg Monarchy by the First Austrian...

. They included Elvino in Bellini's
Vincenzo Bellini
Vincenzo Salvatore Carmelo Francesco Bellini was an Italian opera composer. His greatest works are I Capuleti ed i Montecchi , La sonnambula , Norma , Beatrice di Tenda , and I puritani...

 La sonnambula
La sonnambula
La sonnambula is an opera semiseria in two acts, with music in the bel canto tradition by Vincenzo Bellini to an Italian libretto by Felice Romani, based on a scenario for a ballet-pantomime by Eugène Scribe and Jean-Pierre Aumer called La somnambule, ou L'arrivée d'un nouveau seigneur.The first...

. He next went on tour in Russia and Holland before joining the Royal Opera
Berlin State Opera
The Staatsoper Unter den Linden is a German opera company. Its permanent home is the opera house on the Unter den Linden boulevard in the Mitte district of Berlin, which also hosts the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra.-Early years:...

 in Berlin. Adams stayed there for three years, before becoming the principal tenor of the Vienna Hofoper from 1867 to 1876. He also sang two seasons at the Royal Opera House
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The...

 in London's Covent Garden
Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a district in London on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St. Martin's Lane and Drury Lane. It is associated with the former fruit and vegetable market in the central square, now a popular shopping and tourist site, and the Royal Opera House, which is also known as...

, one season at the Royal Palace of Madrid
Royal Palace of Madrid
The Palacio Real de Madrid is the official residence of the King of Spain in the city of Madrid, but it is only used for state ceremonies. King Juan Carlos and the Royal Family do not reside in the palace, choosing instead the more modest Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid...

, and one season at La Scala
La Scala
La Scala , is a world renowned opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the New Royal-Ducal Theatre at La Scala...

, Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...


Adams toured America with the Carl Strakosch company in 1877 and 1878, singing among other parts the title role in the first American production of Wagner's Rienzi
Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen is an early opera by Richard Wagner in five acts, with the libretto written by the composer after Bulwer-Lytton's novel of the same name . The title is commonly shortened to Rienzi...

. He also performed in other German operas with Mme. Poppenheim and in Italian operas with Clara Louise Kellogg
Clara Louise Kellogg
Clara Louise Kellogg was an American singer.She was a daughter of George Kellogg and Jane Elizabeth , born at Sumterville, South Carolina, and was educated in New York for the musical profession, singing first in opera there in 1861. Her fine soprano voice and artistic gifts soon made her famous...

, Maria Litta and Annie Louise Cary
Annie Louise Cary
Annie Louise Cary was an American singer.-Origins and education:She was born in Wayne, Maine, the daughter of Nelson Howard Cary and his wife, Maria Stockbridge. After an early education in the common schools, she attended the female seminary at Gorham, Maine, and graduated in 1862...


His greatest operatic roles were Manrico in Il trovatore
Il trovatore
Il trovatore is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play El Trovador by Antonio García Gutiérrez. Cammarano died in mid-1852 before completing the libretto...

, the title part in Lohengrin
Lohengrin (opera)
Lohengrin is a romantic opera in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner, first performed in 1850. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and its sequel, Lohengrin, written by a different author, itself...

, Cola di Rienzo
Cola di Rienzo
Cola di Rienzo was an Italian medieval politician and popular leader, tribune of the Roman people in the mid-14th century.-Early career:Cola was born in Rome of humble origins...

 in Rienzi, and the title part in Tannhäuser
Tannhäuser (opera)
Tannhäuser is an opera in three acts, music and text by Richard Wagner, based on the two German legends of Tannhäuser and the song contest at Wartburg...

. In his later life, from 1879 on, he worked as a teacher in Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

. His students included the likes of Arthur Middleton
Arthur Middleton (bass-baritone)
Arthur Middleton was an American operatic and concert bass-baritone.-Life:...

, Grace Hiltz and Emma Eames
Emma Eames
Emma Eames was an American soprano renowned for the beauty of her voice. She sang major lyric and lyric-dramatic roles in opera and had an important career in New York, London and Paris during the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century.-Early life:The daughter of...

, the latter being his most celebrated pupil. He died in West Harwich, on Cape Cod
Cape Cod
Cape Cod, often referred to locally as simply the Cape, is a cape in the easternmost portion of the state of Massachusetts, in the Northeastern United States...

, in 1900.


  • Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1963.
  • H. Wiley Hitchcock/June C. Ottenberg: "Charles R. Adams", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed September 25, 2008), (subscription access)

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