Michael Burt, born presumably in 1944 in Farnham (Surrey), was probably the best bass-baritone of his generation, and I'm
fully aware what a surprising statement this is, about a singer who spent his career in theatres of medium size and medium
reputation. A pupil of Conrad Osborne, he sang almost precisely the same repertory as Ruggero Raimondi, plus a lot of
Wagnerian roles; he had a large,
extraordinarily beautiful voice (a class apart from Raimondi, or Robert Hale, for example), his technique was really good, he
didn't wobble, he didn't shout, he didn't declaim, not even in Wagner (a class apart from Raimondi, or James Morris, or
Ferruccio Furlanetto); his musical interpretations were clearly more interesting than Samuel Ramey's; he was a handsome, tall,
elegant guy, and a good actor (a class apart from Raimondi, or Furlanetto, or
Ramey), so didn't leave much to be desired.
I heard him
as Wotan in both Rheingold and (twice) in Walküre, as Wanderer, Gunther, Holländer, the Four Villains (twice),
Escamillo, and Filippo (twice). All performances but the latest – the Holländer in the mid-90s – were
excellent to great (though it must be said that he failed, like so many others, to leave stage in time, and continued singing
in small theatres for many years when he should already have enjoyed his retirement). He was a terrific Wotan (particularly in
Walküre), and the best Filippo by far that I've ever heard on stage.
One of those careers, thus, that make really muse about fame in opera.
Unfortunately, in the early 2010s, Burt suffered a terrible stroke that left him completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but