On this day in 1911, tenor Johan Jonatan “Jussi” Björling was born in Borlänge, Sweden.
Due to a mistaken church birth record, Maestro Björling considered February 2 to be his true date of birth, as his gravestone indicates to this day.
While his fame has faded somewhat since his death on September 9, 1960, in his day, Björling was considered one of the finest voices on earth.
From the website of the Jussi Björling Society USA:
Jussi Björling’s flawless vocal technique, silvery beauty of tone, gleaming upper register, and superb interpretive skills have made him one of the greatest and most beloved tenors of the twentieth century. Numerous colleagues as well as music critics have long placed him at the very pinnacle of vocal excellence. It was to Jussi that Dorothy Caruso, widow of Enrico Caruso, said, “You are the only one worthy to wear his mantle, bear Rico’s crown!”
I have always been partial to this recording of the famous duet from Les pêcheurs de perles, in which Björling and Robert Merrill join forces to stunning effect (brought to A Superfluous Man through the digitally remastered magic of Spotify.com):