You are here

Opera singer collapses and dies in rehearsal

Features - Classical Music | Opera

Opera singer collapses and dies in rehearsal

by Clive Paget on August 21, 2013 (August 21, 2013) filed under Classical Music | Opera | Comment Now
Veteran bass Richard Angas, made famous as Jonathan Miller’s Mikado, has passed away at 71.

The veteran bass Richard Angas has collapsed during a rehearsal for Opera Noth's new production of Peter Grimes. He was rushed to hospital but died shortly after.

Angas was born in 1942 and was a highly versatile performer, with a remarkable operatic career ranging from Wagner to Gilbert and Sullivan and contemporary work, covering half a century. He was particularly known for his 15 years as a principal bass with English National Opera in the 1980s and 1990s when he created the title role in Jonathan Miller’s iconic production of The Mikado.

He studied at the Royal Academy of Music 1960-64 under Olive Groves and George Baker, before spending a year in Vienna training with Ilse Rapf and Erik Werba. He won the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Scholarship (1965), and the Richard Tauber Memorial Prize (1965). He was soon picked up by leading conductors, famously singing a part in Sir Adrian Boult’s recording of Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music.

His professional debut came on his return from Vienna, singing Lodovico with Scottish Opera in 1966. He returned the following season for Das Rheingold, and appeared regularly with the company up until his death. More recently, his visits to Scotland have been as a singer with Opera North.

He did not appear at ENO until 1980, making his debut as Ramfis, but became a fixture thereafter, being indelibly associated with his portrayal of the title role in Jonathan Miller's long-running staging of The Mikado. Other appearances at the Coliseum included three works by Monteverdi - Seneca in Poppea, Pluto and Charon in Orfeo, and Time and Antinöo in The Return of Ulysses. His comic parts included Don Basilio, Osmin, Bartolo, a hilarious performance as the monstrous Cook in Richard Jones’ ‘scratch and sniff’ production of The Love for Three Oranges, and Jupiter in Orpheus in the Underworld.

He excelled in contemporary work as well, singing Aye in Philip Glass’s Akhenaten as well as in his The Making of the Representative for Planet Eight. He is remembered on CD as a finely nuanced Reciter in Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures. He was equally good in serious mode, as Angelotti, Daland, Pimen, Arkel, Gloucester in Reimann's Lear, the Doctor in Wozzeck or the Magistrate in Werther.

Debuts with other British companies include English Opera Group 1969 (Abbot in Curlew River), Royal Opera 1975 (First Apprentice in Wozzeck); New Opera Company 1975 (Archbishop in King Roger); and WNO 1976 (General Boum in The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein). On the continent, he worked in the opera houses at Krefeld, Koblenz, Lisbon, Brussels, Barcelona, Angers and Amsterdam. He toured to Australia with the English Opera Group in 1969 (as the Abbot), and to the Met in 1988 when ENO took the spectacular staging of War and Peace, in which he appeared as Balaga, Benningsen and Davout.

Roles he created include: with Scottish Opera, Cato in The Catiline Conspiracy (Hamilton 1974); for the Royal Opera, Attendant 1 in We Come to the River (Henze 1976); at ENO, Troupe and Judge in The Mask of Orpheus (Birtwistle 1986); and in Paris, Pilate in Der Meister und Margarita (Höller 1989).

Richard Angas, Born Surrey, April 18, 1942 died August 20, 2013.