The Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda has passed away at the age of 91. Especially beloved in the French repertoire, Gedda was admired for his lyrical line, easy top range, and linguistic gifts.
I first saw him as Nemorino at The Old Met, opposite Mirella Freni and Fernando Corena. His "Una furtiva lagrima" was spectacular. It was a voice I was already familiar with from his Texaco broadcasts of Pelleas, Faust, des Grieux in MANON, and Kodanda in THE LAST SAVAGE. Gedda had the distinction of being the last tenor to sing at the Old Met, performing the final trio from FAUST to close the farewell gala.
At the New Met, I saw Gedda often: as Don Ottavio, Alfredo in TRAVIATA, Elvino in SONNAMBULA, Tamino, the Duke of Mantua, Don Jose, Faust, Edgardo in LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, and Lenski in EUGEN ONEGIN. On broadcasts, he sang beautifully as the Italian Tenor in ROSENKAVALIER, as Hoffmann, and as Arrigo in VESPRI SICILIANI. I heard him for the last time at the Met's 100th Anniversary gala; he sang "Una furtiva lagrima", bringing things full circle from his Nemorino at the Old Met.
Among his many recordings, Gedda's Anatol in VANESSA stands out for me; 'live' recordings as Aeneas in TROYENS (the ideal voice for that music, in my estimation), Raoul in HUGENOTS, and Lohengrin (his only Wagner role) are outstanding.
Here are some samples of Nicolai Gedda's artistic diversity: