Obituary: Nicolai Gedda Passes Away At 91

By Francisco Salazar

Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda has passed away.

The tenor died on Jan. 8 but the family did not confirm the news until today through France Musique. The tenor was a fixture of the opera world from 1952 until his retirement in 2003. He sang a total of 70 roles and made 200 recordings.

The tenor had his big break in 1954 when he made his debut at the Paris National Opéra in Weber’s “Oberon” and quickly received a permanent contact with the company. Three years later he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of Gounod’s “Faust.” With the company he went on to sing 28 roles including the world premiere of Barber’s “Vanessa” and the U.S. premiere of Menotti’s “The Last Savage.” He was also famous for performing Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffman” and “Der Zigeunerbaron.” His final performances with the company was in 1983 as Alfredo in Verdi’s “La Traviata.”

Gedda’s debut at the Royal Opera House came in 1954 where he scored a huge success as the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s “Rigoletto.” He went on to sing Berlioz’s “Benvenuto Cellini,” Alfredo in Verdi’s “La Traviata”, Gustavus III in Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera”, Nemorino in Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore” and Lensky in Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin.”

Edda won numerous awards throughout his career including the Swedish Court Singer and became a member of the Swedish Academy of Music. He also received the K.u.K ( Kaiser und König) award and was decoratedwith the Swedish medal “Litteris et artibus.” He was also a recipient of the golden Nobel medal and the Caruso prize.Respected in France he was awarded the Legion of Honor (Légion d’honneur), the highest French decoration, from then president of France Nicolas Sarkozy.

Gedda performed with many of the greatest singers of his time including Maria Callas, Victoria de Los Angeles, Eleanor Steber, Boris Christoff, Kiri Te Kanawa and Beverly Sills.