what can you say about a consummate singer, artist, stylist, linguist,
versatile, collegial and satisfying in damned near everything he
touched over a 40+ year career? that's a hell of a long heyday!
there are few tenors in history who encompassed so many eras, styles and
languages with such brilliance. the worst you can say is that he was
occasionally a diffident stage figure, and that he didn't waste his
money on a press agent. sometimes one ought to recall that greatness
speaks for itself.
Sure- Gedda sang the Duke in Rigoletto, Alfredo in Traviata, Arrigo in
Vespri(perhaps a trifle heavy for him) Riccardo in Ballo among the
Verdi that come to mind.
His Italian roles other than Mozart and Boheme were in Lucia, Elisir,
Butterfly, Tosca(though not at the Met) and probably some others- oh
yes, Ernesto in Don Pasquale also comes to mind. Also Arturo in
Puritani, Elvino in Sonnambula.
He was a great, great tenor, and his French singing was especially
rewarding. He was certainly the finest I've ever heard as Faust, Des
Grieux, Hoffmann, and more. His Don Jose was on the lyric side, but he
sang it beautifully.
I will never forget the Puritani he did with Sutherland at Carnegie
Hall in 1963 in concert form.
We knew he had a good top- the C in Faust was always incredible- but no
one had any idea that C was far from his highest note.
In the "A te o cara" he unleashed a C# (Db) that had everyone staring
at each other in amazment.
Then in the final duet, done in key, his first solo high D naturl was
perhaps the single greatest high note I ever heard in person from a
tenor. It was beyond description. Huge, full, and beautiful. When he
repeated the note together with Sutherland a minute or two later, he
positively drowned her out! Who would have thought that Gedda's D was
much bigger than Sutherland's. Well, I was there. It was.
He still sings recitals in Europe, but from what I understand, doesn't
take long flights, so the chances of him returning to this country are
remote at best.
I have many fond memories of Nicolai Gedda. I remember a Faust in the
new Met in 1970 or '71. The cast was Gedda, Lorengar, Merrill, Siepi.
I was in heaven. Four great voices giving this music it's full due can
really make one realize just how exciting Faust can be.
> what can you say about a consummate singer, artist, stylist, linguist,
> versatile, collegial and satisfying in damned near everything he
> touched over a 40+ year career? that's a hell of a long heyday!
> there are few tenors in history who encompassed so many eras, styles and
> languages with such brilliance. the worst you can say is that he was
> occasionally a diffident stage figure, and that he didn't waste his
> money on a press agent. sometimes one ought to recall that greatness
> speaks for itself.
Bravo on this posting about a class act from a class act. Singers of today
(myself not excluded, of course) would do well to aspire to follow Gedda's
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> Speaking of Gedda, cna anyone please tell me if Gedda ever sang any
> Verdioperas or for that matter any italian roles other than mozart and
> rodolfo in la Boheme.
Um - he recorded Gabriele Adorno in the Gobbi/Christoff/do los Angeles
'Simon Boccanegra', IIRC. I believe he did quite a number of Italian
roles in performance, too, and is the 'Pinkerton' in the
Callas/Serafin 'Madama Butterfly'.
IMO, he is/was a quite unique artist; and seems to come in for very
little, if any, flack around here
> i would be very grteful if U send tit 2 my addresses below since i
Um - no, I won't do that if you don't mind, I like my bosom where it
He sure looks natural?
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
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Hay Ed -
Let me add to the great high note bliss that Gedda provided, the C(?) at
the end of his caballetta in La Sonnambula. I remember him placing his
foot on the prompter's box, extending his arm, hand in a fist & just
letting go seemingly forever. He'd still be there holding onto it, had
they not demolished the joint!
No transposing or other cheating from this great tenor!
The man was "class" personified.
> Jeffrey Meyer wrote:
> > I notice there's little posted on rmo re Nicolai Gedda. I'd be
interested> in knowing why, as I for one consider him a wonderful,
stylistic, versatile> singer - at least in his heyday.
> what can you say about a consummate singer, artist, stylist, linguist,
> versatile, collegial and satisfying in damned near everything he
No he didn't- that was Giuseppe Campora, and he is the fly in the
ointment in that recording for me.
Sometimes, there's not much to say.
I heard him often in the 1960's and cherished it all. Some of his
recordings are classics - an opera director and I this evening were
rhapsodizing over his Orphee, for example.
As for his heyday: a year and a half ago he sang a (live) concert for
the BBC. A friend sent me a tape, and while not all is first-rate, some
is definitely of the highest quality. As I said when I posted a clip at
my WWW site (and incorporated it in a CD-ROM): if I could cast anyone in
the world in Die Lustige Witwe today, he would be my first choice for
There is a wonderful set of excerpts of Forza - though he probably never
sang the role on stage - on Electrola LP. It's in German, but it is
stunning. He and Ulfung alternated in Ballo in Stockholm (in Swedish) in
the Gentele production; Ulfung had the telecast, I believe. Otherwise,
one can only wish ...
Depending on what you mean by 'Italian' (sung in the language? written
by an Italian?) you might want to include Idomeneo. And in any language,
what would I give for a Don Carlo(s)!
One point, and this is not a criticsm, but if the voice was a little "juicier"
and slightly bigger, he would have been a superstar-I imagine in houses smaller
than the Met, would have been the ideal way to hear him.
>One point, and this is not a criticsm, but if the voice was a little
>and slightly bigger, he would have been a superstar-I imagine in houses
>than the Met, would have been the ideal way to hear him.
IMO, Gedda IS a superstar, perhaps not in the context of The 3 Tenors
superstardom; he was too classy and loved his art too much to prostitute
himself that way. But to accomplish what Gedda did in his more than 40 years
of caree with, his formidable voice, elegance, flair for languages and classy
singing, makes him in my eyes one of the greatest operatic superstars of the
As Mr. Tritter rightly pointed out, he did not have a press agent, and may I
add, he did not have a public relations manager alla 3 Tenors. He was too busy
fulfilling the demands of his art, of his discipline, to bother with those
Long live Nicolai Gedda, Master of Masters. A unique and dedicated artist who
regarded his craft very highly and put it above any other materialistic
I don't suppose the performance was taped, was it, Ed?
Hoping against hope,
>>> Speaking of Gedda, cna anyone please tell me if Gedda ever sang
>>> any Verdioperas or for that matter any italian roles other than
>>> mozart and rodolfo in la Boheme.
>> Um - he recorded Gabriele Adorno in the Gobbi/Christoff/do los
>> Angeles 'Simon Boccanegra', IIRC.
> No he didn't- that was Giuseppe Campora, and he is the fly in the
> ointment in that recording for me.
Apologies - quite right. It has been some years since I listened to
I would make the same comment aobut A. Kraus, another artist i enjoy and admire
greatly. Obviously both have had great successful careers, have handled
themselves with class, and as artists have been "super". But in both cases
(particularly in a house like the Met) a little more size, a little more
richness would have resulted in riots. Obviously, I am not strictly comparing
the two voices-Gedda was versatile, could and did sing everything well, in so
many languages. But in the big Italian roles I would prefer a little more
warmth, and a kind of larger scale emotional and vocal color that was not in
Can't we express some discernment about even artists we admire? No one singer,
or tenor is best in everything.
I agree with W99 completely.
When I saw Gedda in Boheme or Butterfly, the singing was wonderful. The
top C's were the best anywhere. But there was a certain amount of
passion missing. An almost intangible abandon that, say, Bergonzi
brought to these roles.
Still, Gedda was a supreme tenor. So versatile in the truest sense,
and not just to say he did it.
He could do it all, and he did, all the time. He knew his limitations,
and, IMO, overstepped them only once, with Arrigo in Vespri. Even
here, he had great moments, and the two B's at the conclusion of the
"Giorno di pianto" were wonders to behold. Just a bit of "heft" was
I remember his charming Nemorino with Freni, the day after the great
blackout in 1965. He was very funny in this role, and sang it
A meeting of great minds-surely
You used the word I was looking for..heft..certain roles require it, certain
voices just don't have it
Yet another Gedda quality to admire is his willingness to perform new
works, something a lot of more recent singers shy from.
Still if you find someone who has one, you are welcome to tape it from
> IMO, Gedda IS a superstar, perhaps not in the context of The 3 Tenors
> superstardom; he was too classy and loved his art too much to prostitute
> himself that way. But to accomplish what Gedda did in his more than 40 years
> of caree with, his formidable voice, elegance, flair for languages and classy
> singing, makes him in my eyes one of the greatest operatic superstars of the
> 20th century.
> As Mr. Tritter rightly pointed out, he did not have a press agent, and may I
> add, he did not have a public relations manager alla 3 Tenors. He was too busy
> fulfilling the demands of his art, of his discipline, to bother with those
> earthly frills.
> Long live Nicolai Gedda, Master of Masters. A unique and dedicated artist who
> regarded his craft very highly and put it above any other materialistic
If you think about it, how many singers had press agents and public relations
managers that hyped them to the hilt back then????? It's S.O.P. now before a
singer even opens his mouth. Look what happened to Alagna after all that hype
and publicity. He was going to be the next superstar - all this in print
before he sang one note on the stage here. Unfortunately, that's the world
we live in now. Pretty sad, I'd say.
I will agree with some of the earlier posters who found him lacking in
Italian roles. I also found him just a bit too temperamentally cool for
Don Jose and the voice just not warm enough in color. But in French
roles he is the model.
Last night I listened to his recording of Le Prophete (recorded for
Italian radio broadcast in 1970). All I can say WOW!
I finally was able to replace Benvenuto Cellini on CD (I've been holding
on to my records for years even though I no longer own a turntable in
fear that it would not come out on CD). It is wonderful. I wish that
EMI would get around to re-releasing some of his aria recitals rather
than their incomplete complications that just make me yearn for some of
the missing items. Specifically, the French aria album, the Mozart aria
album, and the Italian aria album.
Let me second these comments. The aria from "Life of the Tsar" is called
(in English) "Brother, in the Darkness", and it is, IMO, perhaps the most
virtuosic display of tenor singing I've ever heard, even leaving behind
Gedda's other great recordings (like "Magische Toene") in the dust.
Another favorite Gedda recording is his rendition of Rachmaninov's short
song "How Fair this Spot". On a 1961 live recording with Erik Werba (on
EMI) he sings the climactic high B in full voice with perfect poise and
total control. On a later recital from 1971 with Geoffrey Parsons (on
Arkadia and Gala) he sings the B in his (as you put it) "incomparable voix
mixte" and the effect is singularly haunting and beautiful.
> I finally was able to replace Benvenuto Cellini on CD (I've been holding
> on to my records for years even though I no longer own a turntable in
> fear that it would not come out on CD). It is wonderful. I wish that
> EMI would get around to re-releasing some of his aria recitals rather
> than their incomplete complications that just make me yearn for some of
> the missing items. Specifically, the French aria album, the Mozart aria
> album, and the Italian aria album.
> Eric Peterson
Yes! EMI (or Testament) _must_ reissue his early operatic recital with
Galliera when Gedda's voice was still fresh, and, in my view, one of the
most beautiful tenor voices ever. Several selections from this LP have
been scattered over a bunch of different CD releases, but I pray for the
complete release one day!
His Postilion highlights in German are great, with perhaps even a better High D
than in the French arias disk. I heard or read somewhere that he also recorded
the aria in Swedish early in his career (52?) and that that's the best version
of all. Does anyone have this version or know if and where it's available?
A few other cases of brilliant singing of high notes that come to mind include
Escalais' Sicilienne from Robert le Diable (seven high Cs if my memory ir
right), the Lazaro Vieni fra queste braccia from I puritani, and O'Sullivan's
Di quella pira.
But there are others as well.
I am happy to say that Gedda holds his own when it comes to high notes.
>Mention of Gedda's recordings of the Life for the tsar aria and the Postillon
>aria make me wonder if anyone has heard the Rosswaenge versions of these,
I've got them, and they're great. I think Roswaenge recorded the Postilion
three times. I've got two, and the one with the full voice D is better than the
one where he "squeezes it out."
I don't think that it's available on CD; I've only heard it on an
early Gedda LP (a Swedish EMI product, I think). The voice is
considerably lighter than on the later version, and he sings with
more charm, but the top D isn't as brilliant as it ought to be.