The Archive of Recorded Sound recently processed a number of important additions to the Blanche Thebom Collection (ARS.0059), courtesy of Phyllis Villec, a close friend of Thebom's for many years. These additions include a substantial number of programs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, ephemera, photographs, and personal documents spanning the mezzo-soprano's career.
Notable items include Thebom's security pass for the Metropolitan Opera, guest lists and other ephemera from her wedding to banker Richard Metz, and various publicity photos of Thebom featuring her famous long hair, which at one point measured over 6ft, accompanied by letters from devoted fans requesting a sample lock!
Blanche Thebom was born in Pennsylvania in 1915, and began her formal concert career in 1941. She was a member of the Metropolitan Opera through 1967, known for her roles in Wagnerian epics. During this period she also toured extensively, including being the first American to perform at the Bolshoi in Moscow. In 1967 she was appointed head of The Atlanta Opera Company in Atlanta, Georgia. Following that experience, Thebom taught at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. In 1980 she moved to San Francisco and directed an opera workshop at San Francisco State University, and founded the Opera Arts Training Program in 1988 in conjunction with the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Thebom passed away in March 2010 at the age of 94.