Operatic bass Richard Angas died earlier this week at the age of 71. Angas, who was preparing the role of Swallow for Opera North’s production of Britten’s Peter Grimes in Leeds, collapsed during a rehearsal. He was taken to hospital but died soon after.
General director Richard Mantle wrote on the Opera North 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 towering bass (he was 6ft 7in tall), Angas worked extensively both in Britain and Germany and was a principal bass with English National Opera (ENO) 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.
He made his professional debut with Scottish Opera before a career that saw him performing across Europe and in the US.
He performed in contemporary works including Hans Werner Henze’s We Come to the River at Covent Garden in 1976, Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus at the Coliseum in 1989 and for 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.’
Angas made his debut with the ENO in Aida in 1980 and ENO music director Edward Gardner praised his ‘magnificent voice and his warmth and strength of character’.