Obituary: Tenor Douglas Ahlstedt Dies at 78

By Francisco Salazar

On Nov. 24, 2023, American tenor Douglas Ahlstedt died at the age of 78.

Born in Jamestown, New York, Ahlstedt attended and performed with the American Boychoir School. He sang in his first opera while still a child, portraying the role of Miles in the United States premiere of Benjamin Britten’s “The Turn of the Screw” with the New York College of Music in 1958. He attended East School of Music where he received a master’s degree and received his Bachelor’s at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Ahlstedt made his debut at the San Francisco Opera in 1972 in the United States premiere of Gottfried von Einem’s “Der Besuch der alten Dame” followed by his debut in at the Tanglewood Music Festival.

A year later, he won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and made his Met debut in a production of “Rigoletto.” He would perform with the company a total of 200 times in such operas as “Roméo et Juliette,” “Ariadne auf Naxos,” “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” “I vespri siciliani,” “Manon Lescaut,” “Falstaff,” “Fidelio,” “Das Rheingold,” “La Traviata,” “L’Italiana in Algeri,” “Les Troyens,” “Il Tabarro,” “Der Rosenkavalier,” “The Tales of Hoffmann,” “The Magic Flute,” “Tristan und Isolde,” and “Parsifal.” His final appearance on the Met stage was in 1988 in “Così Fan Tutte.”

Outside of the Met he was a resident artist of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf from 1975 until 1984. He also appeared at the Holland Festival, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Dutch National Opera, the Zürich Opera, the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, the Hamburg State Opera, the Vlaamse Opera, the Municipal Theatre of Santiago, the National Theatre Prague, the Teatro di San Carlo, the Bayerische Staatsoper, and the Stuttgart State Opera, among many others. In the U.S., he also made appearances at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Florentine Opera, and the Dallas Opera.