May 19, 2015
Yes, Nicolai Gedda is still en route to celebrating his 90th birthday this year.
This week, several publications erroneously reported the death of Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda; happily, the rumours were false and Gedda is still very much a living legend in every sense of the term, nearing his 90th birthday in July 2015.
Gedda is one of that group of Swedish singers – along with Birgit Nilsson, Elisabeth Söderström, Kerstin Meyer and Ragnar Ulfung – who made an extraordinary impact on the world of opera in the 1950s. The length of his career – he made his debut in 1951 and was still giving concerts at the beginning of the new century – is a tribute to his phenomenal technique.
Warner Classics pays fitting tribute to the opera star, who was born on 11 July 1925, with a lavish boxed set of his Favourite Operetta Roles across 10 CDs. These five complete operettas indeed celebrate Gedda's genial charm and artistry with five roles he made his own, and for which his recordings remain benchmarks: Strauss II's Der Zigeunerbaron, and four sparkling Léhar masterpieces: Der Graf von Luxemburg, Paganini, Der Zarewitsch, and Das Land des Lächelns.
These legendary releases on the former Electrola label document Gedda's incomparable mastery of Viennese operetta in his finest recordings alongside stars including Lucia Popp, Grace Bumbry and Anneliese Rothenberger. He made a number of milestone operetta recordings in the 1960s and '70s - from Strauss to Millöcker, Kalman go Lehar - singing under eminent conductors Willi Boskovsky and Willy Mattes.
Wishing Herr Gedda a happy 90th birthday year - touch wood.
My Favourite Operetta Roles: Nicolai Gedda 10CD boxed set is out in May.