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Obituaries

Obituaries

Edoardo Müller, an elegant bel canto interpreter, dies at age 78; Alberto Remedios, Sadlers Wells's heldentenor; designers Desmond Heeley and Robert O'Hearn.

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Remedios, 1980
© Clive Barda/ArenaPAL

EDOARDO MÜLLER
TRIESTE, ITALY, JUNE 16, 1938—MILAN, ITALY, JUNE 24, 2016  

MÜLLER, AN ELEGANT, effervescent interpreter of the bel canto repertoire, began his career as a pianist and assistant conductor before making his professional conducting debut in 1973, leading Rossini’s Mosè at the Maggio Musicale in Florence. 

Although he conducted throughout the world, Müller was especially active in North America. He was associated for thirty-one seasons with San Diego Opera, where he led forty works, beginning with Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco in 1980, and served as SDO’s principal guest conductor from 2005 to 2011. Müller also appeared with Seattle Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Michigan Opera Theatre, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Washington Opera and Opera Company of Philadelphia. For the Met, Müller conducted 146 performances at Lincoln Center and in the Parks, beginning with his 1984 company debut, leading Il Barbiere di Siviglia. In his thirteen seasons on the Met roster, Müller’s most frequent assignment was Lucia di Lammermoor, which he conducted for the company forty-four times. Among the other Müller specialties enjoyed by Met audiences were L’Elisir d’Amore, La Fille du Régiment and I Puritani

ALBERTO REMEDIOS
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND, FEBRUARY 27, 1935—SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA , JUNE 11, 2016  

MUCH ADMIRED FOR HIS WORK in the groundbreaking Wagner productions of Sadler’s Wells Opera (and later English National Opera) in the 1970s, Remedios was a tenor whose performances were consistently praised for their clarity, power and lyricism. The grandson of a Spanish seaman who immigrated to Liverpool, Remedios was a semiprofessional football player and a Merseyside dockworker before beginning his career with Sadler’s Wells in 1955. He made his formal debut with that company in 1957, as Tinca in Il Tabarro, and had his first significant success there in 1959, with Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos, a role that showed off the virile, gleaming sound of his voice and his impressive stamina.

At the invitation of Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge, Remedios joined the Sutherland–Williamson Opera Company for its fourteen-week tour of Australia in 1965, singing Alfredo in La Traviata, Donizetti’s Edgardo, Lenski in Eugene Onegin and Faust. Later that year, Remedios made his Covent Garden debut, as Grigory in Boris Godunov. He sang his first Wagner role for Covent Garden—Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer—in 1966.

In 1968, Remedios appeared in a new Sadler’s Wells staging of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, under the baton of Reginald Goodall. Opera magazine hailed the production as “the birth of a native style of Wagner opera.” When Mastersingers was revived in 1969, at the company’s new home at the London Coliseum, Harold Rosenthal lauded Remedios for “one of the best-sung Walther von Stolzings possible.” Remedios was one of the singers who established the artistic profile of ENO at the Coliseum in new productions of the four Ring operas, culminating in complete performances of the full cycle in the summer of 1974. Opera’s Rosenthal asked, “When was Siegfried last sung so lyrically and with such a stream of beautiful tone as it is now by Alberto Remedios?” The Mastersingers and the Ring operas were recorded live and preserve the partnership of Remedios and Goodall in its prime. Remedios was London’s Wagner heldentenor of choice for more than a decade; he sang both Siegmunds and all four Siegfrieds in two ENO Ring cycles in 1979 and in 1980 became the first British-born tenor to sing Siegfried at Covent Garden since the 1930s. Remedios sang his first Tristan in 1981, for ENO, in a new staging by Glen Byam Shaw and John Blatchley, and starred in his second new ENO staging of Tristan in 1985. 

Remedios’s other successes in London included Mark in Tippett’s Midsummer Marriage and Max in Weber’s Freischütz at Covent Garden, as well as Florestan for both the Royal Opera and ENO. Remedios also spent several seasons as a member of the ensemble in Frankfurt, where his roles included Tamino, the Duke of Mantua, Erik, Florestan and the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier. He took on the title role in Peter Grimes in Buenos Aires and Prague and (in concert) in London. He also sang regularly in Australia.

Remedios made his U.S. opera debut in autumn 1973, when he sang Grigory in Boris Godunov and the title role in Don Carlo at San Francisco Opera. His only Met appearances were in 1976, as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos. After he had become established as an important Wagnerian in England, Remedios returned to the U.S. for Siegfried in Seattle Opera Ring cycles (in English) in 1978, 1979 and 1980.

Remedios gave his last performance for ENO in 1993, in Janáček’s Adventures of Mr. Brouček, and retired to Australia in 1999.

DESMOND HEELEY
LONDON, ENGLAND, JUNE 1, 1931—NEW YORK, NY, June 10, 2016  

A VERSATILE ARTIST whose elegant work graced theater, ballet and opera productions in North America and Europe for more than sixty years, Heeley joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford, England, as an apprentice designer in 1948. In 1956, Heeley was established as a designer with much-praised work at the theater in Stratford, for Michael Langham’s staging of Hamlet, and in London, with his designs for Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet Solitaire at Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet. Heeley had a particularly long association with the Stratford Festival in Ontario, with forty production designs, beginning with Hamlet in 1957 and continuing through The Importance of Being Earnest in 2009. 

Heeley made his Broadway debut in 1958, with the designs for the Old Vic’s Broadway presentation of Twelfth Night. In 1968, Heeley became the first designer to win Tony Awards for both sets and costumes, for the National Theatre production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Heeley won a third Tony in 2011, for the costumes for The Importance of Being Earnest. 

Heeley made his Met debut in 1970, with the sets and costumes for the Paul-Émile Deiber production of Norma that starred Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne, and which also introduced Horne to Met audiences. Heeley returned to the Met for Deiber’s new staging of Pelléas et Mélisande (1972), the John Dexter production of Don Pasquale devised for Beverly Sills (1978) and Gian Carlo Menotti’s 1980 staging of Manon Lescaut, which teamed Renata Scotto and Plácido Domingo as Manon and des Grieux.

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O’Hearn, Merrill and Karl Böhm, Frau curtain call, 1966
© Beth Bergman

ROBERT O'HEARN
ELKHART, IN, JULY 19, 1921— BLOOMINGTON, IN, MAY 26, 2016   

A DESIGNER WHOSE HANDSOME traditional designs shaped the aesthetics of opera production in the U.S. during his sixty-year career, O’Hearn worked at the Brattle Theater Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, before making his Broadway debut in 1950, with the designs for the Brattle’s production of Vanbrugh’s Restoration comedy The Relapse. O’Hearn worked as an assistant to Lemuel Ayers, Oliver Messel and Oliver Smith on several Broadway productions in the 1950s, including the original runs of Kismet, The Pajama Game, House of Flowers and West Side Story.

In 1958, O’Hearn designed the Washington Opera Society’s production of Ariadne auf Naxos, directed by Nathaniel Merrill, a member of the staging staff at the Metropolitan Opera. After seeing their production of Don Giovanni, Met general manager Rudolf Bing asked Merrill and O’Hearn to direct and design a new production of L’Elisir d’Amore at the Met in 1960. The new Elisir, which marked O’Hearn’s Met debut, staged Dulcamara’s entrance in a hot-air balloon, creating an iconic moment in Donizetti’s comedy that delighted Met audiences for decades. Merrill and O’Hearn were frequent collaborators at the Met, re-teaming for new stagings of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1962), Aida (1963), Samson et Dalila (1964), Hansel and Gretel (1967), Der Rosenkavalier (1969) and Parsifal (1970), as well as the company premieres of Die Frau ohne Schatten (1966) and Porgy and Bess (1985). Several of the Merrill–O’Hearn productions endured in repertory for a generation; in addition to L’Elisir, the Merrill–O’Hearn realizations of Hansel and Gretel and Der Rosenkavalier were especially beloved. O’Hearn and Merrill also collaborated on twenty-five productions in other venues, including Central City Opera House, Miami Opera, the Bregenz Festival, the Vienna Volksoper and Opéra du Rhin in Strasbourg.  

O’Hearn designed the Met’s 1965 production of The Queen of Spades, directed by Henry Butler; the company’s 1967 realization of the Bournonville ballet La Ventana; and the Met’s 1975 Günther Rennert staging of Le Nozze di Figaro. Away from the Met, O’Hearn was welcomed as a designer by New York City Opera, New York Shakespeare Festival, New York City Center, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Canadian Opera Company, Opera Company of Boston, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet and Michigan Opera Theatre, among others.

O’Hearn served as professor at the New York Studio and Forum of Stage Design from 1968 to 1988, when he joined the opera studies faculty of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University Bloomington. He retired from IU in 2008. spacer 



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