Richard Conrad: Belcanto Tenor

I read the obituaries in the New York Times pretty much everyday, not because I have a morbid fascination with death, but because I learn about the most interesting people.
Yesterday was no exception with Diet Eman, a hero of the Dutch resistance during the second world war. She lived a rather quiet life after losing everything and moving to Michigan. Then I learned about Richard Conrad, who sang with the Boston Camerata during the early 1960's and shot to fame after being discovered by Joan Sutherland and her husband Richard Bonynge.

What to make of Conrad's nimble and heady voice (see herehere and here) which was lost in a mugging? I hardly knew, not having heard of him before, and thought to ask my friend Russell Oberlin, who would more than likely have known Conrad, but alas, he is gone too.

I find the whole business of voice classification fascinating, not only from a voice teacher's perspective (I agree with those of the old school who observed that it could take two years to sort things out), but also as a singer who was advised as a student to sing as a lyric baritone and even a baritone-Martin.

Conrad was obviously someone with a good ear, not only for style, but ornamentation. Listening to him trill in tandem with Sutherland is a lesson all in itself. What tenor can do that now?

What sorrow to have lost a voice not once, but twice.

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