Obituary: Tenor Stephen Gould Dies at 61

By Francisco Salazar

Tenor Stephen Gould has died at the age of 61.

The news comes only weeks after the tenor announced an early retirement due to bile duct cancer.

The Bayreuth Festival first announced the news stating, “It is with deepest sadness and bewilderment that we have to announce the death of our friend and colleague, Stephen Gould. With him, the Bayreuth Festival and the entire opera world lose an outstanding singer, performer, educator, friend, and esteemed colleague.”

The company added, “He first appeared at the Bayreuth Festival in 2004 and sang nearly 100 performances until 2022. Among his glittering roles at Bayreuth were the title roles in Tristan und Isolde, Tannhäuser and Siegfried in the Ring des Nibelungen. Stephen Gould has rightly been described as a ‘long-distance runner.'”

Born in 1962 in Virginia, he graduated from Olivet Nazarene University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1984.

He first began his career as a baritone and musical singer who appeared in 3,000 performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “The Phantom of the Opera.”

In 1989, he was a stand-in for a sick Chris Merritt in Los Angeles Opera’s “Tancredi, singing opposite Marilyn Horne. However, he quickly turned away from lyric roles and went on to sing the most demanding heroic parts in the repertoire.

Among his signature Wagnerian roles were Siegfried, Tristan, Tannhäuser, and Parsifal, among others. He was also a very acclaimed Florestan, Paul, Emperor, Bacchus, and Otello.

Throughout his career, he performed at every major opera house in the world including the Metropolitan Opera, Wiener Staatsoper, Bayreuth Festival, Bayerische Staatsoper, Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Berlin State Opera, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, among others.

In his final performances of “Tristan und Isolde” in Valencia, OperaWire said, “Gould displayed his experience as a formidable Tristan, singing in perfect style, with immaculate German diction and a tremendous ability to color his voice.”