One of the most beloved leading
tenors of his time, Nicolai Gedda was acclaimed for his
bright, expressive voice, a flawlessly smooth range, and a high standard of interpretation
musicianship. His strong technique allowed him a long career in opera, operetta, oratorio
concert, and a wide repertoire in multiple languages.
His multi-lingual fluency (he
has sung the role of Tamino in The Magic Flute in as many as five
languages) is due in part to his Russian/Swedish parentage. Born in Stockholm in 1925, he
his early years in Leipzig where his father was choir master of a Russian Orthodox church.
family returned to Stockholm prior to the Second World War, where he became a student at
Royal Conservatory of Music.
The year 1952 marked the
beginning of a major career. He made his highly successful
opera debut with the Stockholm Royal Opera in Adam's Le Postillon de Lonjumeau.
simultaneously, he was signed to sing the role of Dmitri in EMI's recording of Boris
with Boris Christoff. His La Scala debut followed that same season as Don Ottavio in
Giovanni led by Karajan.
His international celebrity as a
leading tenor followed rapidly, with engagements in Paris,
London, Salzburg, Vienna and Rome. His debut at the Metropolitan Opera came in 1957 in
title role of Gounod's Faust. The following year, he created the role of Anatol in
the premiere of
Mr. Gedda's brilliant career
continued into the next four decades with a repertoire of 75 operas.
In 1965, he once again sang Faust to open the final season at the historic,
Opera House. He also enjoyed great success as a concert singer, including a series of
recitals enthusiastically received at the Salzburg Festival. In the 1980's, he performed in
opera and concert in Russia, and in 1991 appeared in a revival of Gustaf Wasa in
He has made over two hundred
recordings in a long association with EMI. He was appointed
Singer to the Royal Court of Sweden by King Gustavus VI in 1965, and his first memoirs
published in the book Gavan ar Inte Gratis (Stockholm 1978). Nicolai Gedda: My
Life and Art
(autobiography) was released in 2003. He has been a Visiting Professor at the Royal
of Music in London, and was made an Honorary Member of that Academy in 1994. Among his
many awards and honors is France's Legion of Honor, presented to him in