Mystery score

Mystery score

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Philip Langridge

The British tenor Philip Langridge has died, age 70; while the obit I'm linking to says "after a short illness," an acquaintance says Langridge had been ill for some time and his passing was not a surprise.

I never heard Langridge live, and reading various reminiscences, I'm sorry about that. It's apparent that he was one of those singers who in the theater could grab you by the throat, and whose art was far more than his voice. The obit I link to above includes phrasing like "successor to Pears" and "[his voice] could not be described as heroic or beautiful," which tell the story of art beyond voice.

On broadcasts, where I did catch him once or twice, all you get is the voice, and given the contrast between in the house and over the air with the current Met broadcasts, there's no way that what I heard represented him adequately.

Rest in peace, Philip Langridge, and condolences to your family and friends.

6 comments:

c said...

he had had cancer for around five years but had been completely unaware of it until diagnosis around three weeks ago. he will be sorely missed as a friend and a professional.

Henry Holland said...

Luckily, LA Opera had him for Peter Grimes and even though the voice was torn and frayed, he was utterly compelling on stage. I wish I could have seen his Aschenbach in the theater.

I have a tape of him singing Kong in Birtwistle's fab The Second Mrs. Kong and he has no problem with the angular lines and high notes. If only I could find a recording of the premiere of The Mask of Orpheus that he took part in...

David said...

Fortunately his intense singing-acting, which had many of us shaking uncontrollably, is preserved on DVD, in his Grimes and his Captain Vere. He's also on possibly the best opera production I know, the Lehnhoff Glyndebourne Jenufa. And then there's the SuBo Witch avant le lettre in the Met Hansel...

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks, all.

Doundou Tchil said...

Philip was a bright man, acerbic wit, very sharp. That's why he was so good live, despite a good but unexceptional voice. He had presence and could act, being an observant person. Get the DVD of The Minotaur, where Birtwistle wrote the role specially to suit his voice. I was at what proved to be his last recital, four months ago. His voice let him down, and you could feel how he was suffering with disappointment. Then for the planned encore he chose the long satirical monologue from G&S where a singer explains away his limitations. That is the measure of the kind of man he was, he could laugh despite adversity.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I certainly will get The Minotaur - on my must-see DVDs.