segunda-feira, 9 de agosto de 2010

Anthony Rolfe Johnson (1940 - 2010)

(Anthony Rolfe Johnson)

Há muito que Sir Rolfe Johnson se encontrava afastado dos palcos. Padecia de uma enfermidade crónica, afim com a demência. Chegou a sua hora, sem que o próprio disso se apercebesse…

Rolfe Johnson deve permanecer nas nossas memórias como O tenor mozartiano dos anos 1990. Travei conhecimento com ele
via Gardiner, que o adorava. Com este grande maestro britânico, Rolfe Johnson interpretou Monteverdi, Bach e Handel, para além de uma óptima La Clemenza di Tito, a par de um excelente Idomeneo.

Paz à sua alma.

Anthony Rolfe Johnson, an Englishman who began his professional life as a farmer and ended it as a distinguished lyric tenor who had performed to glowing notices in the world’s most storied opera houses and concert halls, died on July 21 in London. He was 69.

The death was announced on the Web site of his management company, Askonas Holt. As was widely reported in the British press, Mr. Rolfe Johnson had been ill with Alzheimer’s disease in recent years.

Mr. Rolfe Johnson, who did not begin formal training until he was nearly 30, eventually sang leading roles on opera stages including those of Covent Garden in London, the Paris Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, where he appeared 20 times in the 1990s.

He recorded widely and was a soloist with major orchestras, including the Chicago and Boston Symphonies and the New York Philharmonic.

Critics praised his tonal beauty, vocal flexibility and interpretive sensitivity, as well as his ability to inhabit seemingly any period in a 400-year swath of musical literature. Though Mr. Rolfe Johnson was most closely identified with early-music composers, including Monteverdi, Bach and Handel, his portfolio ranged through Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and on to modernity.

In 20th-century music, he was especially renowned for his Peter Grimes, the tortured fisherman at the heart of Benjamin Britten’s opera of that name. He sang the role many times, including, in 1994, at the Met.

Anthony Rolfe Johnson was born on Nov. 5, 1940, in the Oxfordshire village of Tackley; as a boy he sang in his church choir. By the time he was a teenager, however, he had decided to study agriculture and spent most of his 20s farming in Sussex.

In his late 20s, seeking a hobby, he joined a local choir. On hearing him, a fellow chorister sent him to sing before a prominent voice teacher in London. There — and by all accounts to his immense astonishment — Mr. Rolfe Johnson was told that properly trained, he stood to become a world-class singer.

Before long, he had enrolled in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He found himself years behind his classmates, unable even to read music. He soon learned, and eventually studied privately with the distinguished English tenor Peter Pears, Britten’s life partner.

Mr. Rolfe Johnson made his operatic debut in 1973 with the English Opera Group, singing Count Vaudémont in Tchaikovsky’s opera “Iolanta.” Other notable roles over the years include Aschenbach, the lead in Britten’s “Death in Venice,” which he sang at the Met in 1994.

He had made his Met debut three years earlier in the title role of Mozart’s “Idomeneo,” substituting for Luciano Pavarotti, who had withdrawn because of a schedule conflict.

Reviewing the debut in The New York Times, Edward Rothstein called Mr. Rolfe Johnson’s voice “both well placed and well tempered,” adding, “His musicianship gave him authority.”

Also known as an oratorio singer, Mr. Rolfe Johnson recorded Bach’s two Passions, the St. John and the St. Matthew, for the Archiv label, singing the role of the Evangelist in each.

Mr. Rolfe Johnson was twice divorced. Survivors include his wife, Liz; their three children; and two children from his first marriage.

In 1992, he was made a Commander of the British Empire

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