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Music Pages

British bass Richard Angas dies aged 71

22 August 2013

Richard Angas as the Mikado at English National Opera
Richard Angas as the Mikado at English National Opera(Photo: Bill Rafferty)

The British operatic bass Richard Angas has died, aged 71. Angas, who was preparing the role of Swallow for Opera North’s production of Peter Grimes in Leeds, collapsed during a rehearsal. He was taken to hospital but died shortly afterwards.

Opera North’s general director Richard Mantle posted a personal message about Angas on the company’s website: ‘We are incredibly sad to lose such an esteemed and admired performer, and so suddenly. Richard was a giant of the opera world in every possible way, a performer of great character and charisma, generous hearted and an incredible friend to all who knew and worked with him. He will be sorely missed.’

A versatile and much sought-after performer, Angas’ towering physique (he was 6ft 7in tall) lent him an exceptional stage presence. He worked extensively in Britain and Germany, and was a principal bass with English National Opera for 15 years. Most recently, he played the title role in Sir Jonathan Miller’s ENO production of The Mikado (a role he first performed with the company in 1986), and earlier this year appeared in productions of Welsh National Opera’s Lulu, Wagner Dream and The Cunning Little Vixen.

Angas’ commitment to performing contemporary works also saw him participate in the world premieres of Hans Werner Henze’s We Come to the River at Covent Garden in 1976, Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus at ENO in 1989, and the UK premiere of Jonathan Harvey’s Wagner Dream at the Barbican under Martyn Brabbins in 2012.

‘I owe a great deal to Richard Angas,’ Sir Jonathan Miller told BBC News. ‘Apart from the fact that he was one of the great performers in a long-lasting production of The Mikado, he was one of the most convivial professional companions whose company I enjoyed for many, many years.’

ENO music director Edward Gardner praised Angas’ ‘magnificent voice, warmth and strength of character’.

  • Richard Angas, operatic bass, born 18 April 1942; died 20 August 2013

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