Nicolai Gedda

11 July 1925 Stockholm – 8 January 2017 Tolochenaz (Switzerland)

Picture of Nicolai Gedda as Tamino

Picture of Nicolai Gedda in Le postillon de Lonjumeau, his debut role
Nicolai Gedda in Le postillon de Lonjumeau, his debut role

Picture of Nicolai Gedda
I wish to thank Vladimir Efimenko for the picture.

Picture of Nicolai Gedda

Nicolai Gedda singsLa sonnambula: Ah perché non posso odiarti
In RA format

Nicolai Gedda singsLucia di Lammermoor: Maledetto sia l'istante, with unknown partners
In RA format

Nicolai Gedda singsZhizn za tsarja: Bratsy v metel

Nicolai Gedda singsLes vêpres siciliennes: Giorno di pianto
In RA format

Nicolai Gedda singsRoméo et Juliette: Ah lêve-toi, soleil

Nicolai Gedda singsTurandot: Nessun dorma
I would like to thank Daniele Godor for the picture (Tamino).
I would like to thank Helmut Krautschneider for the recording (Sonnambula).
I would like to thank Vladimir Efimenko for the recording (Zhizn za tsarja).
I would like to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recordings (Roméo et Juliette, Vespri siciliani).

Gedda's mother was Swedish, his father half Russian, half Swedish, but the two never lived together; Gedda was adopted and raised by his father's sister, whose husband was again Russian (Mikhail Ustinov, a basso at the Don Kossack choir). Since Ustinov sang at a Russian-Orthodox church in Leipzig from 1928 to 1934, Gedda spent those childhood years in Germany, which is why he was equally fluent in Swedish, Russian and German.

His voice was discovered while he worked for a bank; he studied with Carl Martin Öhman and with his adoptive father in Stockholm, where he started his career at the Royal Opera House in 1952. His success was immediate and global; in 1953, he was already at La Scala, in Torino and Rome, in 1954 at the Paris Opéra, Covent Garden and the Aix-en-Provence Festival, in 1957 at the Salzburg Festival and the Metropolitan Opera, in 1962 at the Vienna Staatsoper. He also sang in Chicago, San Francisco, and at the Bolshoj (1980), among many other places. He also did a lot of concert work, and made a plethora of recordings.

He sang very long; way too long, to be precise (until 2001!). I only heard him on stage in his late years, and would have preferred not to.

Reference 1: Kutsch & Riemens, reference 2


Le postillon de Lonjumeau – Stockholm, Opera, 8 April 1952
Der Rosenkavalier – Stockholm. Opera, 1952
Les contes d'Hoffmann (Nicklausse) – Stockholm, Opera, Fall 1952
Der Bettelstudent – Stockholm, Opera, 1952
La damnation de Faust – Paris, concert, 1953
Orphée – Aix-en-Provence, Festival, 1953
Don Giovanni – Milano, Scala, 28 January 1953
Trionfo di Afrodite – Milano, Scala, 14 February 1953
Les Indes galantes (Damon) – Paris, Opéra, 11 January 1954
Carmen – Wien, concert, 1954
Rigoletto – London, Covent Garden, January or February or May 1954 (shared the role with Oreste Kirkop who sang the first night)
Oberon – Paris, Opéra, 12 February 1954
Mireille – Aix-en-Provence, Festival, 1954
Die Entführung aus dem Serail – Aix-en-Provence, Festival, 1954
Die Zauberflöte – Paris, Opéra. 22 December 1954
Les pêcheurs de perles – Paris, Opéra-Comique, during his stay in Paris between 1954-1957
Così fan tutte – Aix-en-Provence, Festival, 1955
Platée – Aix-en-Provence. Festival, 1956
La traviata – Paris, Opéra, 1956
Iphigénie en Tauride – Köln, WDR, 1956
Idomeneo – Stockholm, Opera, 10 January 1957
Faust – Monte Carlo, Garnier, 1957
Otello (Cassio) – Paris, Opéra, 1957
Armide – Bordeaux, GT, 1957
Die Schule der Frauen – Salzburg, Festival, 17 August 1957
Vanessa – New York, Met, 15 January 1958
Les contes d'Hoffmann – New York, Met, 31 October 1958
Evgenij Onegin – New York, Met, 13 December 1958
Manon – New York, Met, 28 October 1959
Der Zigeunerbaron – New York, Met, 25 November 1959
Alceste – New York, Met, 6 December 1960
Boris Godunov – New York, Met, 9 December 1960
Madama Butterfly – New York, Met, 18 January 1961
L'elisir d'amore – New York, Met, 28 January 1961
Benvenuto Cellini – Amsterdam, 16 June 1961
Die lustige Witwe – New York, concert, 1962
The last savage – New York, Met, 23 January 1964
La sonnambula – New York, Met, 21 February 1963
I puritani – New York, concert, 1963
La dame blanche – Amsterdam, concert, 1964
Pélléas et Mélisande – Stockholm, Radio, 1964
Il matrimonio segreto – Wien, ORF, 1964
Tosca – Stockholm, Opera, 1964
La bohème – Stockholm, Opera, 1964
Werther – New York, concert, 1965
Un ballo in maschera – Wien, Staatsoper, 1965
Das Land des Lächelns – Wien, Volksoper, 1965
Lohengrin – Stockholm, Opera, 1966
Orfeo (composer: Haydn) – Wien, Theater an der Wien, 1967
Roméo et Juliette – New York, Met, 6 April 1968
Fra Diavolo – San Francisco, War Memorial, 26 November 1968
Lucia di Lammermoor – New York, Met, 1 February 1969
Les Troyens – Roma, RAI, 11 December 1969
Le prophète – Torino, RAI, 8 September 1970
Les huguenots – Wien, concert, 1971
Guillaume Tell – Firenze, Comunale, 16 May 1972
Pikovaja dama – New York, Met, 27 December 1972
Les pêcheurs de perles – New York, Carnegie Hall, 1974
I vespri siciliani – New York, Met, 31 January 1974
Dalibor – New York, Carnegie Hall, 1977
The bartered bride – New York, Met, 25 October 1978
Don Pasquale – New York, Met, 7 December 1978
Lakmé – New York, Carnegie Hall, 1981
Iolanta – Washington DC, Opera, 1982
War and peace – Paris, concert, 1987
Candide – London, concert, 1989
Gustaf Wasas saga (composer: Hallén) – Stockholm, Opera, 16 October 1991
Mazeppa – Stockholm, concert, 1992
Palestrina (Abdisu) – London, Covent Garden, 28 January 1997
Reference: Nicolai Gedda Mein Leben – Meine Kunst, Parthas Verlag, Berlin, 1998; English edition: Amadeus Press, Portland (Or), 1999

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