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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Anthony Rolfe Johnson, 1940-2010

Anthony Rolfe Johnson
The lyric tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson, well known for his work in the operas of Mozart and Benjamin Britten, has died. He was 69.

A native of Oxfordshire, Mr. Rolfe Johnson made the transition from the world of farming to the operatic stage. He joined a choir when he was in his 20s. A fellow choir member sent him to consult with a London-based voice coach. Much to his astonishment, Mr. Rolfe Johnson learned that he had a world-class voice. He set the plow down, and enrolled in singing lessons.

Mr. Rolfe Johnson rose to prominence as part of the "period performance" movement in the 1980s. He recorded several major Mozart operas with John Eliot Gardiner conducting, including La Clemenza di Tito, a role which he also sung at the Metropolitan Opera. He enjoyed a long association with Mr. Gardiner, recording the part of the Evangelist in Bach's St. Matthew Passion and St. John's Passion.

In later years, he expanded his repertory to include modern, dramatic works like Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes and Aschenbach in Death in Venice, another role he performed at the Met.

In recent years, Mr. Rolfe Johnson had suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

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