Denes Striny

Picture of Denes Striny

From a self-marketing text once on the internet (on the site of Amalfi Coast Music & Arts Festival):

Denes Striny was born in St. Paul, Minn. He attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he received his B.M. and M.M. degrees. From there he went on to become the Head of the Music Department at Trinity College, also in Washington, D.C., and the Music Director of the Cathedral of Northern Virginia.

Following an apprenticeship with the Wolf Trap Opera Company, he moved to New York City to pursue a career as a professional opera singer. At the same time he started his New York vocal studio.

Striny has sung leading tenor roles in most of the major opera houses in the United States. He made his European debut with England's Opera North as Walther to great critical acclaim. Mr. Striny has also sung throughout Germany, Japan, and Australia. For his role in Carmen, the newspaper The Australian wrote: "Tenor Denes Striny's José was a knockout!" And the Australian Daily Mirror wrote: "Denes Striny and Maria Ewing provided a thrilling and unforgettable night out." The London Financial Times called him "a gutsy clear-voiced tenor", and Opera News called him "a robust and clarion Radames".

Actually, his career wasn't much to write home about; "most of the major opera houses in the United States" didn't include the Met, the New York City Opera, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia... you name it. It did include Minnesota Opera in Minneapolis, where his 1990 Pollione earned him a devastating review on Star Tribune. And "throughout Germany"... oh well, never mind.

Striny knew Birgit Nilsson (there's a video on Youtube proving it, obviously from a Nilsson masterclass), and she made a tenor of the baritone that Striny had been for the first seven years of his career. And since he, like too many terrible singers, was hugely successful as a voice teacher (already when still singing himself), he wrote a book on vocal technique, great parts of which are in fact a lengthy account of his encounters with Nilsson. Title of the book: Head first – Striny insists that opera should be sung with head voice, primarily, and with just parsimonious use of chest voice. Which makes my funny bone tickle, as I cannot help thinking of Heinz Holecek's hilarious skit where he, imitating Helge Rosvaenge, mocks voice teachers who recommend a "sempre piano" method...

Striny's pupils include Lauren Flanigan, Eugene Perry, Stephanie Friede, Nina Edwards, Carmen Balthrop, Armando Mora, Alexandra Hughes, Carol Yahr, Carolyn James and Lucy Shelton. The only one of them that I know is Eugene Perry, and he was a third- or fourth-class singer at best, even though he didn't sing in head voice only.

Reference 1: Star Tribune, 14 October 1990; reference 2: Gadsden Times, 4 April 2007; reference 3: The Journal of Singing, 1 November 2007

Denes Striny sings Die Walküre: Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond
In RA format

Denes Striny sings La Gioconda: Enzo Grimaldo, principe di Santafior, with Joe Shore
I would like to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recording (Gioconda).

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