The Wagnerian tenor, renowned for his strong, lyrical voice, has passed away aged 81.
English tenor Alberto Remedios, renowned for his strong, lyrical voice and interpretations of Wagner, has passed away aged 81 in Australia.
Remedios was born in Liverpool, England, to working class parents. He sang in a church choir as a child and took singing lessons with Edwin Francis, who also taught soprano Rita Hunter. Remedios left school at 15 to play football semi-professionally and work as a welder in a shipyard in Merseyside. He continued his singing lessons and, following his National Service, studied at the Royal College of Music with Clive Carey. He made his operatic debut in 1957 as Tinca in Puccini’s Tabarro for Sadler’s Wells (which later became the English National Opera), performing regularly with the company.
Remedios’ distinctive voice and power soon brought him success. Musicologist Elizabeth Forbes described it: “The voice has much more of an edge than the usual Italian tenor; it is far smoother than a German voice of comparable size, less nasal than the typical French sound, more resonant than the well-bred but constricted tones produced by many British singers.”
Remedios first sang the role of Bacchus in Ariadne for Sadler’s Wells in 1961, taking over the part at short notice, and it soon become one of his best roles. “By the spring of 1968,” Forbes says, “Alberto’s voice had grown so large that the sheer volume of sound in that resonant auditorium was almost painful in its intensity.”
He toured Australia in 1965 with the Sutherland-Williamson company and Luciano Pavarotti, singing Faust and Lensky. This opportunity apparently came about after Remedios sang in a restaurant to impress a sceptical waiter – Joan Sutherland happened to be dining there that same night. 1965 was also the year he made his debut at Covent Garden.
His performances as Walther von Stolzing in The Mastersingers of Nuremberg conducted by Reginald Goodall and recorded live by Chandos for Sadler’s Wells in 1968 established his fame even more widely. He went on to sing both Siegmund and Siegfried in the company’s first complete production of the Ring cycle, also conducted by Goodall and recorded live. Remedios made his American debut in 1973 at San Francisco and made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1976 as Bacchus. He also sang Mark on the first recording of Michael Tippet’s The Midusmmer Marriage, conducted by Colin Davis. Remedios was appointed CBE in 1981.
Remedios performed regularly in Australia – he sang in concert performances of Götterdämmerung at the Sydney Opera House in the late 1970s with Rita Hunter, conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras and sang Lohengrin for Victoria State Opera in the 1980s. He retired in Australia in 1999. The English National Opera has dedicated their June 15 performance of Tristan and Isolde.