Tenor Forrest Lamont was Canadian by birth, but he spent most of his life in the United States. Opera engagements took him all over the world, and he sang with some of the world's finest singers in major cities such as New York and Chicago.
Born in the Ontario village of Athelone, in the Adjala Township, Forrest Lamont moved with his family to Chicopee, Massachusetts where he studied music and sang in church choirs. He continued his studies in France, Italy and Germany, and on May 18, 1914, he made his operatic debut at the Teatro Adriano in Rome in Donizetti's Poliuto. In the same year, he made a guest appearance in Moscow, and engagements followed throughout Europe with performances in Italy, Vienna and Budapest.
In 1916, Lamont returned to the United States, and joined the Chicago Civic Opera Company. The company's director, Campanini, actively supported the efforts of American opera composers, and Lamont had the opportunity to perform the lead in a number of American operas. One of Lamont's earliest appearances on the Chicago Opera stage took place on December 26, 1917, in the world premiere of Azora, Daughter of Montezuma by American composer Henry Hadley. Lamont appeared in the role of Xalca in this three-act Romantic opera that "was a sort of junior American Aida, with a call for lavish staging, processionals, ballets, colorful costuming, big musical numbers" (Moore, p. 180-182).
In 1918, Lamont appeared in the premiere of an opera that dealt with the American Civil War, Daughter of the Forest, by American composer Arthur Nevin. In the same year, the Chicago Opera presented a season at the Lexington Theater in New York City, and in this venue, Lamont appeared in Azora, Daughter of Montezuma again and in Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix with the popular soprano Amelita Galli-Curci. Other American operas in which he appeared include Hardling's Light From St. Agnes and Frank Patterson's The Echo.
Between 1919 and 1920, he made ten recordings on the Okeh label, including arias from Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Giuseppe Verdi's Il Trovatore.
Lamont sang with the Chicago Civic Opera until 1930, specializing in performances of Wagnerian, French and Italian opera. He appeared in a wide variety of roles, including Rodolfo in La Bohème, Radames in Aida, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Herzog in Rigoletto, Dmitri in Boris Gudonov, Canio in I Pagliacci, Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana and Siegmund in Die Walküre. One of his greatest successes occurred in 1921 when he sang the role of Gennaro in E. Wolf-Ferrari's The Jewels of the Madonna with the renowned vocalists Giacomo Rimini and Rosa Raïsa.
Forrest Lamont also joined the Cincinnati Civic Opera and made guest appearances with the Philadelphia Opera Company. Between his engagements in the United States Lamont made international tours, visiting cities in the West Indies and South America. After he retired from the concert stage, he became a voice teacher in Chicago.
He lived in Chicago until his death in 1937.
Selected recordings available
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- Kallmann, Helmut. A History of Music in Canada 1534-1914. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1960. xiv, 317 p. AMICUS 12060681
- Kolodin, Irving. The Metropolitan Opera, 1883-1966: a candid history. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1966. AMICUS 1173970
- Kutsch, Karl J., and Leo Riemens. Grosses Sängerlexikon. Munich: K.G. Saur Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1997. 7 vol. AMICUS 19726277
- Manning, Ed. "Roll back the years." Opera Canada. Vol. 5, no. 3 (September 1964). P. 65-67. AMICUS 1645716
- Moore, Edward C. Forty Years of Opera in Chicago. New York: Arno Press, 1977. AMICUS 642257. Reprint of 1930 edition (New York : Horace Liveright)
- "United States of America/Individuals with US careers/Singers (opera and concert)". Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Edited by Helmut Kallmann et al. 2nd ed. Toronto : University of Toronto Press, c1992. xxxii, 1524 p. AMICUS 12048560