Singers on Singing :
Nicolai Gedda

Singers on Singing: Nicolai Gedda

Photo: Nicolai Gedda as the Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore
Photo credit: Louis Mélaçon/Metropolitan Opera

From the time of his debut in 1952 right through the remarkable 51 ensuing years of his career, the great lyrical tenor Nicolai Gedda won exceptional accolades for the virtuosity of his technique and breath-control, the radiant elegance and refinement of his phrasing, and the vividly colourful and deeply intelligent characterisation of his interpretations. His artistry, musicianship and vocal perfection have been particularly admired by many of the most distinguished conductors of the last several decades, such as Sir Thomas Beecham, Otto Klemperer, Herbert von Karajan, Carlo Maria Giulini and James Levine. He has also been profoundly admired for the extraordinary range of his stylistic mastery – with his remarkable linguistic gifts, his repertoire took on a very large number of operatic roles and also songs and choral works in Italian, German, French, Russian, English, Norwegian, Finnish, Spanish and Swedish compositions, the last mentioned being in his mother tongue as he was born in Stockholm, in 1925. In the interview he recorded with Jon Tolansky in 1995, which forms the central content of the 85th birthday documentary from 2010 that is posted here, Nicolai Gedda recalls highlights from his life and career and also revealingly discusses some of the technical aspects of singing that he mastered to such high acclaim. Details of the music illustrations follow below.

Jon Tolansky


Jon Tolansky

Musical excerpts included in this feature:

  • Excerpt of “Una furtiva lagrima” from Act 2 of L’Elisir d’Amore (Donizetti, from the album Heroes with the Orchestra del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and conductor Francesco Molinari-Pradelli)
  • “Mes amis, écoutez l’histoire” from Act 1 of Le Postillon de Lonjumeau (Adolphe Adam, from the album Heroes with the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française and conductor Georges Prêtre)
  • “Bimba dagli occhi pieni di malia” from Act 1 of Madama Butterfly (Puccini, from the album Madama Butterfly)
  • “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” from Act 2 of Carmen (Bizet, from the album Carmen)
  • “O Mädchen, mein Mädchen” from Friederike (Lehar, from the album Heroes with the Symphonie Orchester Graunke München and conductor Willy Mattes)
  • “Pourquoi me réveiller” from Act 3 of Werther (Massenet, from the album Werther)
  • “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön” from Die Zauberflöte (Mozart, from the album Die Zauberflöte)

Related Resources


Singers on Singing: The Performer’s Perspective


Singers on Singing :
Maria Callas

Part of

Singers on Singing: Great Artists in Conversation