Opera Scotland

Richard Cassilly Suggest updates

Born Washington, DC, 14 December 1927.

Died Boston. 30 January 1998.

American tenor.

Richard Cassilly was a tall, burly man with a commanding voice and a subtle acting style, which made him a valuable performer in several heroic roles. He studied at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, and made his debut in New York at the Broadway Theatre, as Michele in the opening run of The Saint of Bleecker Street (Menotti 1954). He then spent several seasons with opera companies in the USA, particularly New York City Opera (debut in the title role of Tchaikovsky's Vakula the Smith), Chicago (Laca 1959), and San Francisco (Max 1964). At the New York Met from 1973 he appeared as Radamès, Otello, Tristan, Tannhäuser, Don José, Samson, Captain Vere, Drum Major and Jimmy Mahoney.

In 1965 he made his debut in Geneva in the lead role of Raskolnikoff (Sutermeister's adaptation of Crime and Punishment), and subsequently spent much of his career in Europe. He was a member of the Hamburg State Opera from 1965, visiting Edinburgh with them in 1968. His repertoire in Hamburg included Canio, Erik and Aron. Other major continental houses he appeared at included Vienna, Paris and La Scala.

His British debut as Peter Grimes with Scottish Opera was rather hindered by ill-health, but he was chosen to sing the title role in a BBC TV studio production of Otello, conducted by Charles Mackerras. In the seventies he was a frequent guest at Covent Garden. In London, from 1968 to 1982, his roles included Laca, Peter Grimes, Otello, Florestan, Siegmund, Tannhäuser, Aeneas and Captain Vere. He also appeared as Troilus in Walton's revision of Troilus and Cressida in 1976 (a performance of which was recorded). He sings Aron in the Pierre Boulez recording of Schoenberg's work.

He later taught, as Professor of Voice at the University of Boston.

Roles in Scotland

Erik a huntsman
Fliegende Holländer 1968
Peter Grimes a fisherman
Peter Grimes 1968
Jimmy Mahoney a lunberjack
Mahagonny 1986

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