Leo Goeke

6 November 1936 Kirksville (Missouri) – 18 September 2012 Pittsfield (Massachusetts)

Leo Goeke sings Don Giovanni: Il mio tesoro

Goeke was the son of a shoemaker and worked in his father's workshop, along with his four brothers. The father, an opera buff and church tenor, also taught his sons music, and they formed an amateur quintet that performed successfully at county fairs and other events. Leo Goeke then graduated from Missouri Teachers College and served in the Missouri National Guard for six years. He studied performing arts in Baton Rouge and voice at the Iowa State University. He was accepted into the opera studio of the Metropolitan Opera in the late 1960s, and made his debut at that house in 1971 as Gastone. He stayed at the Met until 1974, singing lots of tiny roles, but also Arturo (Lucia di Lammermoor), Rodolfo, Jacquino, Cassio, Italienischer Sänger, Almaviva, Tamino, Don Ottavio and Alfredo at the Met. Other than that, he sang in Baltimore, Seattle, at the New York City Center Opera, the Glyndebourne Festival (where he made his European debut in 1973 as Flamand in Capriccio, and sang later Idamante, Tom Rakewell, Don Ottavio and Tamino), in Strasbourg, Amsterdam and Stuttgart. In 1989, he returned to the US and sang for another few years in Santa Fe, Orlando, Palm Beach or San Francisco.

He sang only the lyrical repertory; other than the roles already mentioned, also Almaviva, Ernesto, Belmonte, Rodolfo, Pinkerton or Massenet's des Grieux. He was also successful in the concert hall (for instance at the Carmel Bach Festival in 1969). He had a nice timbre, but shouted in the top register, and his coloratura (not that unimportant for a Mozart tenor!) is among the worst ever documented on recordings.

From 1994 to 2004, he taught voice at DePauw University in Greencastle.

Reference 1; reference 2: Kutsch & Riemens; reference 3 and picture source: Bach Cantatas

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