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Digital Subscriptions > Opera Now > April 2017 > LEGENDARY SINGERS


Nicolai Gedda (1925-2017) was possessed of a honeyed tenor voice, known for its elegance and versatility across a wide range of styles and languages. A handsome figure on stage, he exuded an easy bonhomie and showed a generosity of spirit towards even the most difficult colleagues, winning the love and admiration of a legion of fans over the course of a 40-year career.

Nicolai Gedda

Showing poise and bonhomie: Nicolai Gedda

The career of the Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda, who died in January aged 91, was based on an extraordinary capacity for operatic assimilation. Of course, there was a golden voice as well. Yet even beyond the usual Scandinavian’s expectation of learning several languages, Gedda was a surprisingly fluent and voluble polyglot. He was able to enter the psyche of different national operatic styles, expressions, and content in a fluid way.

Adopted and raised by a stern stepfather who served as cantor in a Russian Orthodox church, Gedda tried to conform to please the martinet. This early experience doubtless helped smooth later encounters with notoriously temperamental conductors and singers. Gedda’s command of his adopted Russian idiom, in recordings starting with his 1952 Boris Godunov, was exemplary.

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About Opera Now

Christophe Rousset celebrates a quarter century at the forefront of the Early Music scene with Les Talens Lyriques; Sir John Eliot Gardiner takes Monteverdi’s three surviving operas on tour around the world; and our guide to the brightest and best opera festivals of 2017. Plus, remembering the velvet voice of Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda; individuality and imagination in the songs of Arthur Sullivan; Debussy’s ravishing Pelléas lets down its hair at Garsington; American baritone Scott Hendricks shares his love of playing bad boys; the art of the librettist; British conductor Nicholas Chalmers; and an 80th birthday tribute to Grace Bumbry.