In Memoriam 2018: Remembering the Major Opera Singers That Passed This Year

By Francisco Salazar

For many, 2018 was a year to celebrate with many triumphs. It was also a tough year for arts institutions fighting sexual harassment scandals and numerous political issues. And it was also a year that saw many beloved artists’ and celebrities’ lives come to an end.

The opera world was particularly devastated by the loss of many major stars, some of them rather young.

Montserrat Caballé

One of opera’s most beloved divas passed away at the age of 85 after suffering health complications. The death of the great Spanish soprano was mourned by the entire opera world with major artists sharing their condolences. Caballé was known for her pianissimo and her expressive qualities as well as her vast repertoire. The soprano went on to perform at every major theater including the Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera House, Teatro Real, and Gran Teatre del Liceu and was well-known for her interpretations as “Aida,” “Norma,” and numerous bel canto heroines.

Full Obituary Here

Jesus Lopez Cobos

At the age of 78 the Spanish conductor died in Berlin. The untimely death of Lopez-Cobos happened as the famed conductor was suffering with cancer. A recognized opera conductor, Lopez Cobos went on to headline important productions at the Teatro alla Scala, the Royal Opera House, and the Metropolitan Opera. During his time with Berlin Opera he would conduct Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen” cycle at the Berlin Festival, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and the first complete cycle to be staged in Japan.

Full Obituary Here 

Inge Borkh

The dramatic soprano was one of the most acclaimed interpreters of “Salome” and “Elektra.” While she remained in Switzerland for most of her career, she had many successes around the world in Munich, San Francisco, London, and New York, among others. She was also very famous for her Aida and Lady Macbeth.

Full Obituary Here

Bonaldo Giaotti

Italian bass was one of the most in demand basses of his generations. He went on to have a 25-year career performing more than 30 roles in 300 performances. He was a formidable Verdian bass performing major productions of “Don Carlo” and “Luisa Miller.” He would appear at such theaters as the Royal Opera House, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Arena di Verona, Opera de Paris, Vienna State Opera, Teatro Real, Teatro alla Scala, and Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. He also recorded a number of complete operas and albums.

Full Obituary Here 

Huguette Tourangeau

The Canadian mezzo was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions and went on to have a well-known onstage and recording partnership with Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge. Together they recorded “Maria Stuarda,” “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “Rigoletto,” “Esclarmonde,” “Norma,” and “Les Contes d’Hoffmann,” among others. She also took on both lyric and dramatic mezzo roles such as Cherubino, Arsace in “Semiramide,” Charlotte in “Werther,” and Adalgisa in “Norma.”

Full Obituary Here

Milos Forman

Though Milos Forman did not direct opera, he did it bring it it to the mainstream in his movie “Amadeus” which not only won the Oscar for Best Picture but also went on to make millions at the box office. The movie featured selections from “Don Giovanni” and “Die Zauberflöte” among others.

Full Obituary Here 

This year also saw the passing of coloratura Sylvia Geszty, a well-known Queen of the Night and “Lucia di Lammermoor,” Glyndebourne favorite Gordon Sandison, and dramatic tenor Gianfranco Cecchele, who had huge successes in leading Verdi and Puccini roles as well as with such divas Renata Tebaldi and Maria Callas.

Soprano Sally Silver died after her battle to cancer but she is remembered for her vast array of repertoire. Allan Evans, who passed at the age of 77, was a bass-baritone who was one of the first black American singers to perform in German opera houses. Famed director Tito Capobianco and empresario Glen Roven also passed away.

Bolshoi favorite Bass Maxim Mikhailov, legendary bass Carlo Cava, Bayerische Staatsoper company member Hildegard Hillebrecht-Stöhr, and South African bass-baritone George Stevens all died.

The year also lost such singers as Luisa Mandelli, Maria Callas’ famed Anina, English National Opera stars Katherine Pring and Arthur Davies, and Russian mezzo Valentina Levko, a favorite of the Bolshoi Theatre.

Other notable deaths included Polish soprano Isabella Nawe, New York City Opera favorite John Lankston, known for his interpretation in “Candide,” LA Opera chorus member Andres Ramirez, Puerto Rican tenor Antonio Barasorda, mezzo Joyce Blackham, Italian baritone Claudio Desderi, baritone Barry McDaniel, Dutch tenor Hubert Delamboye, Soprano Kristine Ciesinski, who was also a certified flight instructor, mezzo Isabelle Andréani, and Tanglewood Festival Chorus’ Founder John Oliver.

French Tenor Michel Sénéchal, tenor Herbert Doussant, Metropolitan Opera opera mezzo Ariel Bybee, Spanish Soprano María Orán, Lithuanian tenor Virgilijus Noreika, who performed over 40 roles and 1,000 performances, Bass Carlos Feller, Birtish Bass Raimund Herincx, Soprano Tamara Nizhnikova, tenor Karl-Heinz Stryczek, Bolshoi bass Alexander Vedernikov, Philippine tenor Otoniel Gonzaga, Italian mezzo Claudia Carbi, Metropolitan Opera Assistant General Manager Robert Rattray, and tenor James McCray also died



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