July 11, 2015

Happy 90th birthday, Nicolai Gedda!

The great Swedish tenor has sung and recorded an enormous repertoire from Carmen with Callas to operetta.

Born on 11 July, 1925, the Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda celebrates his 90th birthday today. Despite false reports earlier this year, he is very much a living legend who enjoyed an unusually long career spanning more than half a century.

He famously sang 28 roles over 26 years at the Metropolitan Opera New York from 1957. His discography at Warner Classics is rich and varied, with the legendary EMI Classics producer Walter Legge recalling the first time he heard the talented young tenor while holding auditions for Boris Godunov:

"The first to sing to me (at 9.30 in the morning) was Gedda who had, I believe, sung only once in public. He sang the Carmen Flower Song so tenderly yet passionately that I was moved almost to tears. He delivered the difficult rising scale ending with a clear and brilliant B flat. Almost apologetically I asked him to try to sing it as written - pianissimo, rallentando and diminuendo. Without turning a hair he achieved the near-miracle, incredibly beautifully and without effort."

Warner Classics celebrates the Swede's 90th birthday with a 10-CD boxed set dedicated to his mastery of Viennese operetta. My Favourite Operetta Heroes is out now.