It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of the Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda, at the age of 91.
Nicolai Gedda was a prince among tenors. Throughout his long and glorious career, he sang practically everything, all over the world. He made each and every style and genre his own: it was with astounding ease that he moved from the Passions of Bach to Viennese operetta, from Mozart arias to French song, from Italian bel canto to Schubert Lieder, from Russian songs to French opera (in which he had no rival). Every performance was a beacon of authenticity from this polyglot – son of a Swedish mother and Russian father – who spoke six languages fluently.
Along with Maria Callas, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Victoria de los Ángeles, he was without doubt the singer most fundamentally connected to our labels: shortly after his debut at the age of 27 in Stockholm in Adolphe Adam’s The Postillion of Lonjumeau, he recorded for us Grigoriy in Boris Godunov with Boris Christoff and the Bach Mass in B Minor under the direction of Herbert von Karajan. Some 200 recital and opera recordings followed, cementing Gedda’s mythic status in recorded music.
He was among those legendary artists I had the pleasure to get to know well after having admired them for so long, and who inspired me from the very beginning of my career. I also had the great honour of producing some of his last recordings. I saw him for the last time two years ago at his home near Lausanne, where he had retired with his wife and where he wished to remain incognito, after all those decades in the limelight. I will never forget his smile, his dry humour, his innate class, and above all the kindness of the eternally youthful Nicolai Gedda, forever a prince.
President, Warner Classics & Erato