Walter Cassel Memorial Scholarship
Walter Cassel, born in 1910 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, was a leading baritone of the Met Opera Company for over 25 years. Cassel sang 275 performances with the Met Opera and 126 with the New York City Opera during his career. He also appeared with numerous opera companies in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Vienna, and Düsseldorf. His decision to pursue a career in opera began in 1933 when he sang for the renowned American baritone, Lawrence Tibbett, who was giving a recital in Omaha where Cassel was studying dentistry at Creighton University. With Tibbett's encouragement, Cassel headed to New York with $40 in his shoe, a pair of coveralls, and a briefcase full of music.
In his early career in 1934, Cassel supported himself by singing on the radio and acting in films. Preferring live performances rather than film work, Cassel went on to sing in Broadway musicals and light operas. He auditioned to join the Met Opera in 1942, and was invited to join the singers at the company. At the Met, he sang in the roles of Bretigny in Jules Massenet's Manon, Count Ceprano in Verdi's Rigoletto, Hermann in Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffman, Valentin in Gounod's Faust, and Silvio in Ruggero Leoncavallo's Pagliacci. His final performance at the Met was as Kurwenal in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.
After a distinguished career in one of the world's most important opera houses, he chose to devote his immense musical gift to students at the IU Jacobs School of Music where many of his voice students went from IU to leading positions as professional singers and teachers throughout the world. He was on the faculty of the Jacobs School of Music from 1974-1980.
Walter Cassel and his devoted wife, Gail, herself a nationally acclaimed soprano, sang many concerts, operas, and operettas together.
The Walter Cassel Memorial Scholarship is awarded to students studying voice at the Jacobs School.