Nicolai Gedda

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Nicolai Gedda 1987

Nikolai Gedda ( pronunciation : [ nikɔˌlaʝː ˈʝɛdːa ]; * July 11, 1925 as Harry Gustaf Nikolai Lindberg in Stockholm ; † January 8, 2017 in Tolochenaz , Switzerland ) was a Swedish opera singer ( lyric tenor ).


Nicolai Gedda was born as Harry Gustaf Nikolai Lindberg. He was raised by his Swedish aunt Olga Gädda and his Russian adoptive father, Michail Ustinov, a distant relative of Peter Ustinov . His family lived in Leipzig from 1928 to 1936 , where Ustinov was cantor at a Russian Orthodox church. It was there that Gedda began his musical training. In 1936 the family returned to Stockholm, where Gedda studied at the Conservatory and made her debut in 1952 as Chapelou in Adolphe Adam's Le postillon de Lonjumeau and was a long member of the Royal Swedish National Opera . Gedda soon became one of the most sought-after interpreters of Mozart and oratorios in the 20th century. At the beginning of the 21st century, he still gave great recitals a. a. at the Hamburgische and the Vienna State Opera . Gedda performed as a song interpreter together with the pianist Sebastian Peschko .

He spoke Swedish, Russian and German as well as Italian, French and English without an accent. His repertoire was correspondingly extensive (around 50 different operatic roles).

Thanks to his bright, very flexible voice, which retained a youthful smoothness into old age, Gedda was considered the ideal cast for roles such as Tamino in the Magic Flute or Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail , Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto or Dmitri in Boris Godunow . Gedda was also successful in the French subject. He also distinguished himself as an interpreter of oratorios, masses or cantatas, including in the St. Matthew Passion or in Edward Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius . As a Wagner interpreter he received great recognition with his interpretation of Lohengrin at the Royal Swedish National Opera in Stockholm. Then Nicolai Gedda was announced as Lohengrin at the Bayreuth Festival ; fearing that his voice would be overstrained, he canceled the performances at short notice.

Guest appearances took him to the Paris Opera in 1952, to La Scala in Milan in 1953 , to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and in 1957 to the New York Metropolitan Opera , where he was involved in the world premiere of Samuel Barber's opera Vanessa . In 1962 he made his debut as Tamino at the Vienna State Opera under Herbert von Karajan . In 1980 he sang in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin at the Moscow Bolshoi Theater .

Nicolai Gedda was also active as a singing teacher and wrote essays on the art of singing and an autobiography.

At his request, the death of a cardiac arrest in his house near Lausanne was not announced to the public until a month later.


Alongside Plácido Domingo , Gedda is the tenor who has been invited most frequently to complete opera recordings. His discographic legacy ranges from the pre-classical period ( Christoph Willibald Gluck ) to the music of the 20th century ( Rolf Liebermann ).

He was first discovered by the record companies for the Russian repertoire: in 1952 he sang the role of Dmitri in Modest Mussorgsky's Boris Godunow alongside Boris Christoff in the title role . Two years later, alongside Boris Christoff, he took on the role of Sobinin in a complete recording of Michail Glinka's A Life for the Tsar , whose aria is one of the most difficult in the tenor repertoire because of its high notes.

Also in 1954, he played Gioachino Rossini's Der Türke in Italien for the first time at La Scala in Milan alongside Maria Callas . In 1955 Herbert von Karajan chose him again as a partner of Callas for his recording of Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly . Further studio recordings of Italian operas by Vincenzo Bellini , Gaetano Donizetti and Giuseppe Verdi followed . It was also soon a popular cast for Mozart operas.

Gedda devoted himself particularly to the French repertoire, with recordings of the most famous operas by Georges Bizet , Charles Gounod and Jules Massenet with him. Thanks to his recordings, he played a major role in the rediscovery of German operas from the first half of the 19th century, which had long disappeared from the repertoire. His complete recordings contributed to this, u. a. Euryanthe by Carl Maria von Weber , Abu Hassan and the twin brothers by Franz Schubert , Undine by Albert Lortzing .

Although his recital with Russian opera arias received strong critical acclaim, he was only invited to complete recordings of Tchaikovsky operas ( Eugene Onegin , Jolanta ) when his voice had already passed its zenith.

Gedda has also recorded numerous oratorios and devoted himself particularly to German, French and Russian art songs . He has also recorded some of the most famous operettas.

Honors, awards, prizes


  • Nicolai Gedda: My life - my art. Recorded by Aino Sellermark-Gedda. Parthas Verlag, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-932529-22-7 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Red's archives of the city of Stockholm , in Swedish.
  2. a b Christophe Rizoud: Décès de Nicolai Gedda on , February 9, 2017, accessed on February 10, 2017 (French).
  3. a b c On the death of KS Nicolai Gedda . Vienna State Opera , February 10, 2017, accessed on February 10, 2017.
  4. Commemorative plaques in Vienna: Mozart Community Vienna: holder of the Mozart Medal . Inscription Deutschordenshof, website by Hedwig Abraham, accessed on February 10, 2017.
  5. Nicolai Gedda riddare utnämnd till . Svenska Dagbladet , June 2, 2010, accessed February 10, 2017 (Swedish).