Master of the House

With a 51-year Met career including nearly 1,700 performances, bass Paul Plishka is one of the company’s most beloved artists. By Christopher Browner

On September 21, 1967, Paul Plishka made his Met debut as the Monk in Ponchielli’s La Gioconda. Fifty seasons later, the great American bass has appeared in 1,672 performances of 88 roles, including celebrated portrayals of Philip II in Don Carlo, King Marke in Tristan und Isolde, Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Dr. Dulcamara in L’Elisir d’Amore, and the title characters of Boris Godunov and Falstaff (the latter of which marked his 25th anniversary with the company). In fact, only eight performers in Met history have given more performances with the company than he has. Plishka sang Colline in La Bohème in the inaugural Live from the Met telecast in 1977 and holds the company record for singing both Benoit and Alcindoro in a single performance—a pairing that he has performed nearly 150 times since 2001.

Take a look back at some of Plishka’s most celebrated roles.

1970.7.7_Plishka.La Boheme.Colline _Louis Mélançon_.jpgAs Colline in Puccini’s La Bohème

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As Fiesco in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra


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As Philip II in Verdi’s Don Carlo


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As Raimondo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor


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As Dr. Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, with Luciano Pavarotti


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As the title character of Verdi’s Falstaff


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As Benoit in Puccini’s La Bohème


Plishka was honored on the Met stage during a performance of Puccini’s Tosca in 2012.