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George Cehanovsky, Singer With Met for 60 Years, Dies

March 29, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ George Cehanovsky, a noted baritone whose career with the Metropolitan Opera spanned 60 years, has died.

Cehanovsky, who lived in Yorktown Heights, died Tuesday. Most sources put his age at 94, The New York Times said.

His career with the Met began with his 1926 debut and lasted through last season, when he worked as a Russian-diction coach.

Cehanovsky was born into an aristocratic family in St. Petersburg, now Leningrad - in 1892, according to most sources, although some said 1889 - and was a naval officer at the time of the Russian Revolution. He and his adoptive mother and voice teacher fled to Turkey.

In 1922, Cehanvosky arrived in the United States and sang with the San Carlo opera company. He went to the Met in 1926 as a bit-part baritone at $60 a week.

He occasionally sang leading baritone parts in his early years at the Met, but he quickly became the mainstay of the company in the small-to-mediu m roles that do much to define the character of a performance.

Among the parts he most often sang were Schaunard in ″La Boheme″and Dancaire in ″Carmen.″

In 1966, he retired when the Met’s old opera house on 39th Street was closed, singing his last performance - the quintet from ″Carmen″ - on the occasion of the gala farewell to the building.

By that time he had sung 1,706 performances with the company in New York, and another 677 on tour, for 40 consecutive seasons in 97 roles. Except for the last, all those figures still stand as house records.

After his retirement from singing, Cehanovsky never broke his ties with the Met, and within a decade he was back as a language coach.

Cehanovsky is survived by his second wife, Sylvia.

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