Obituaries

Obituaries

Bass-baritone John Del Carlo dies at sixty-five.

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Del Carlo as Don Pasquale at the Met, 2010
© Johan Elbers
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Pashley in training, 1955
© ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo

JOHN DEL CARLO
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, SEPTEMBER 21, 1951—PORTLAND, OR, OCTOBER, 2016  

AN ARTIST of impeccable craft, John Del Carlo made a career specialty of bringing authentic character to roles that are often dismissed as comprimario parts; in Del Carlo’s shrewdly judged performances, Dr. Bartolo, the Tosca Sacristan and his witty double-act of Benoît and Alcindoro in La Bohème became authentic star turns. At six feet, six inches, Del Carlo was a huge presence onstage and off, but he was a kind, genial man. Del Carlo had the distinction of being not only one of the busiest artists in opera but one of the best liked, beloved throughout the U.S. by audiences and by his colleagues for decades. The bass-baritone, who died after a brief illness, made his last Met appearance in the broadcast performance of La Bohème on January 19, 2016.

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Del Carlo participated at the beginning of his career in San Francisco’s Merola Program and its Western Opera Theatre tour. Del Carlo maintained a long relationship with San Francisco Opera, which he always referred to as “my hometown opera.” He made his SFO debut in 1973, as the Fisherman in Peter Grimes. He sang regularly at the War Memorial Opera House until the company’s 2015 revival of Le Nozze di Figaro; other San Francisco Opera credits for Del Carlo ranged from the world premiere of Andrew Imbrie’s Angle of Repose (a Financier, 1976) to appearances as Dulcamara, Baron Zeta, Kothner, Alidoro in La Cenerentola, General Boum in La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein and the title role in Falstaff

Del Carlo was also a regular presence at San Diego Opera, beginning in that company’s young-artist program in the late 1970s and continuing until his appearance there asDon Pasquale in 2012. He made his debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1981, as Don Fernando in Fidelio. His subsequent Lyric appearances included the Bonze in Madama Butterfly, Kothner, Frank in Die Fledermaus and Bartolo in Barbiere. He was a frequent guest at Seattle Opera, beginning with his local debut as Donner and Gunther in a 1984 Ring and continuing until his final company appearance, as Cadmus in Semele in 2015. He was also welcomed at Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera and Washington National Opera. In Europe, Del Carlo sang with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Opéra National de Paris; the Aix-en-Provence Festival; the Schwetzinger Festspiele; Deutsche Oper am Rhein; Vlaamse Opera; and the Opernhaus Zurich.

When Del Carlo was in his mid-thirties, he accepted an offer from Marek Janowski to sing Wagner with the Gürzenich Symphonie in Cologne, where Janowski was Kapellmeister. Janowski, who believed that Del Carlo had the potential to be the Wotan of his generation, paced the bass-baritone as Wotan in Rheingold, the Wanderer in Siegfried and Gunther in Götterdämmerung. Del Carlo was then hired by intendant Michael Hampe as a member of the ensemble at the Cologne Opera, where he stayed for three years, singing a wide variety of roles but eventually deciding to specialize in the comic roles that were to be his livelihood. While he was in Germany, Del Carlo auditioned in Salzburg for James Levine, who was then casting Kothner in the new Otto Schenk production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Met. When Del Carlo finished his audition, Levine said, “Bravo, John. Where have you been?”

The bass-baritone’s house debut as Kothner on January 14, 1993, was the beginning of a twenty-one-season career at the Met for Del Carlo.In his 309 performances with the company, Del Carlo’s most frequent Met assignments were Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (sixty performances), the Sacristan in Tosca, Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro, Frank in Die Fledermaus and the doubling of Benoît and Alcindoro in La Bohème. Del Carlo sang principal roles in new Met productions of Andrea Chénier (Mathieu, 1996), La Traviata (Marquis d’Obigny, 1998), Barbiere (Bartolo, 2006), Peter Grimes (Swallow, 2008) and Le Nozze di Figaro (Bartolo, 2014) as well as the company premieres of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Quince, 1996), The Merry Widow (Baron Zeta, 2000), A View from the Bridge (Alfieri, 2002), Benvenuto Cellini (Giacomo Balducci, 2003) and Thomas Adès’s Tempest (Gonzalo, 2012).

Del Carlo appeared frequently with the Met on radio and television, including the company’s 2006 presentation of the Act I finale of Il Barbiere di Siviglia on The Late Show with David Letterman. He was seen internationally in six of The Met: Live in HD transmissions, including the 2010 revival of Don Pasquale, in which he sang the title role.

Del Carlo’s signature role at the Met was the pompous, hapless Bartolo in Barbiere, a character he brought to particularly vivid life in Bartlett Sher’s popular 2006 production, in which Del Carlo was—as always—an invaluable member of the ensemble, the definition of an artist who will always be missed, but who can never be replaced. 

F. Paul Driscoll 

ANNE PASHLEY
SKEGNESS, ENGLAND, JUNE 5, 1935— CHILTON, ENGLAND, OCTOBER 7, 2016  

IN THE EARLY YEARS of her professional life in her native England, Anne Pashley was known as “the fastest soprano in the Garden”—and with good reason. Before she began her singing career, Pashley was a world-class track-and-field athlete who won the bronze medal in the women’s 100 meters at the 1954 European Championships in Berne and was part of the silver-medal 4x100 relay team at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Pashley retired from competition soon after her Olympic win and began studies at the Guildhall School of Music in London. She made her opera debut at Sadler’s Wells in June 1959, in the Handel Opera Society’s presentation of Semele, and was soon a much-admired artist in the musical life of London, a lyric soprano whose charm, energy and adroit singing brought her a good deal of favorable attention in the British music world. 

Pashley made her Glyndebourne debut in the 1963 season, as a Genie in Franco Enriquez’s production of Die Zauberflöte; she returned to Sussex three years later as the Second Lady in a revival of the same staging. The following year, Opera had high praise for Pashley’s Siebel in an Aberdeen performance of Faust by Sadler’s Wells, citing her “beautifully clear, well-focused tone” and persuasive acting. When the production was seen in London in February 1965, critic Harold Rosenthal called Pashley “just about the best Siebel I can remember.” Pashley’s other early-career roles at Sadler’s Wells, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera and other British companies included Marzelline in Fidelio, Feodor in Boris Godunov, Zerlina, Esmerelda in The Bartered Bride, Humperdinck’s Gretel and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro. Pashley made her Covent Garden debut in 1964, as Barbarina in a starry revival of Le Nozze di Figaro with Georg Solti conducting. 

The soprano was also admired for her work with Benjamin Britten, who conducted her as Idamante in Idomeneo in London, at the Aldeburgh Festival and on BBC-TV; as Iole in Handel’s Hercules; as Cis on his 1964 recording of Albert Herring;and as one of the Nieces in Peter Grimes on BBC-TV in 1969. One of her favorite Britten roles was Lucy Lockit in the composer’s adaptation of Gay’s Beggar’s Opera, which she sang with the English Opera Group in 1967 and at Aldeburgh in 1982. Pashley also sang a Niece on Colin Davis’s 1978 Grimes recording with Jon Vickers. Her other recordings included the Bruckner Te Deum and the Bach Magnificat in D Major, both led by Daniel Barenboim. 

In 1970, Pashley appeared with the New Opera Company in London as Cardillac’s Daughter in the British premiere of Paul Hindemith’s Cardillac; cast as her lover was her real-life husband, tenor Jack Irons, whom she had married in 1959. In the late 1980s, Pashley and Irons retired to a small town near Toulouse, France; their marriage lasted until Irons’s death in 2005. 

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Allen in the Met broadcast booth
OPERA NEWS Archives

PETER ALLEN
TORONTO, CANADA, SEPTEMBER 17, 1920—NEW YORK, NY, OCTOBER 8, 2016  

THE HOST of the Metropolitan Opera’s Saturday-afternoon radio broadcasts for twenty-nine seasons and more than 500 performances, Allen began his broadcasting career in Ohio before moving to New York to join WQXR, then the radio station of The New York Times, as an announcer in 1947. 

During the 1973–74 broadcast season, Allen was hired as a standby for Milton Cross, who had been the regular broadcast announcer for the Met since 1931. The following season, on January 3, 1975—the day after Cross’s death from a heart attack—Allen stepped in as broadcast announcer and remained in the job until his retirement, in April 2004.

Allen’s lean, elegant voice and unpretentious manner made him a beloved Saturday-afternoon institution for thousands of listeners all over the world. His love for opera and his respect for its practitioners were manifest in every word Allen spoke, and his measured, gentlemanly delivery made the most outrageously complicated opera plot sound reasonable. Allen seemed unflappable because he was: more than once, he was required to improvise live on the air when performance mishaps caused delays or interruptions. And improvise he did, with the same class, grace and easy authority that marked all of his work for all of his life.

DIANE CURRY
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV, FEBRUARY 26, 1938—NEW YORK, NY, NOVEMBER 2016  

A VERSATILE, COMMITTED ARTIST, Curry was featured in a wide range of roles at New York City Opera during the company’s glory years in the 1970s and early ‘80s. The mezzo received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Westminster Choir College and taught at Westminster and at the University of Delaware while establishing her professional career in opera and oratorio. Curry sang with Goldovsky Opera Theater, Chautauqua Opera, Philadelphia Grand Opera and other regional theaters before making her NYCO debut in 1972, as Antonia’s Mother in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, with Norman Treigle and Beverly Sills. Curry sang in the NYCO premieres of Henze’s Young Lord (Frau von Hoofnail, 1973), I Puritani (Enrichetta, 1974), Die Tote Stadt (Brigitta, 1975) and ll Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria (La Fortuna, 1976). 

Other NYCO roles for Curry included Annina in Der Rosenkavalier, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Dryade in Ariadne auf Naxos, Second Lady in The Magic Flute, Giovanna in Rigoletto, Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor, Berta in Il Barbiere di Siviglia; Neris in Medea, Magdalene in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana, Mary in Der Fliegende Holländer, Geneviève in Pelléas et Mélisande, the Street Sweeper in Louise, Virtù and Ottavia in L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Dido in Dido and Aeneas,Madelon in Andrea Chénier, Emma Jones in Street Scene, Fata Morgana in The Love for Three Oranges, Cornelia in Giulio Cesare and the title role in Carmen.

Curry sang regularly at Opera Company of Philadelphia, where her credits included Mildred Murphy in the 1976 world premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Hero, and at Seattle Opera, where she sang Fricka, the Second Norn and the Götterdammerung Waltraute in the company’s Ring cycles (1981–86). She made her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut in 1979, as Madelon in Andrea Chénier, and bowed at San Francisco Opera in 1990, as Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera.   

Curry made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1989, as the Nurse in Die Frau ohne Schatten. Other assignments during Curry’s seasons on the Met roster included the Aunt in the premiere of Olivier Tambosi’s 2003 staging of Jenufa, the Mother in Lulu and the Housemaid in War and Peace.  

The mezzo’s international credits included appearances with Canadian Opera Company, Arena di Verona, Bavarian State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Hamburg State Opera, La Scala, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Paris Opera and the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto. spacer 



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