Page last updated at 13:56 GMT, Sunday, 7 March 2010

British tenor Philip Langridge dies at 70

Philip Langridge
Philip Langridge (l) performed in Britten's Death in Venice to much acclaim in 2005

Acclaimed tenor Philip Langridge has died at the age of 70 after suffering from cancer.

Langridge, considered to be one of the leading talents in English opera and oratorio, died on Friday.

Langridge studied at the Royal Academy of Music and appeared on all the world's great operatic stages.

He was known for his versatility and command of a wide variety of styles, and was made a CBE in 1994 for his services to music.

London's Royal Opera House (ROH), where Langridge had performed many times since 1983, issued a statement saying all there were "very sad at this news".

"Philip was such a generous friend to all of us at the Royal Opera House, and on a personal level that friendship went back many years," said Elaine Padmore, director of Opera at the ROH.

She paid tribute to "his intelligence, his humour, his wonderful voice and superb musicianship, his compelling presence on stage, [and] the many roles he made his own".

Antonio Pappano, the Royal Opera's music director said: "Philip Langridge was one of the most admired artists by every member of the Royal Opera House family. He was family to us... his passing is truly a big loss for the music world."

Langridge made his debut at the ROH in a double bill singing the role of The Fisherman in Stravinsky's Le Rossignol and Teapot in Ravel's L'Enfant et les sortilèges.

His roles for The Royal Opera included the title role in Idomeneo in 1989, Jupiter (Semele) in 1996 and more recently Don Basilio in David McVicar's production of Le nozze di Figaro in 2006.

He returned to the Wagnerian role of Loge in Das Rheingold on a number of occasions for the ROH, first performing the role in 1996.

Grammy awards

Langridge was born in Hawkhurst, Kent in 1939. He started his career as an orchestral violinist before making his professional operatic debut at Glyndebourne in 1964.

He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1985 as Ferrando (Cosi fan tutte) and at Salzburg in the role of Aron in Schoenberg's Moses und Aron in 1987.

He first performed as Loge (Das Rheingold) with the Metropolitan Opera, New York in 1993 and the following year he appeared in a new production of Oedipus Rex in Japan which won the Classical Music Award for Best Opera Production.

Langridge's interpretations for major Britten roles were highly regarded. He sang the title role of Peter Grimes all over the world including at the ROH, English National Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala.

He was a dedicated and enthusiastic performer of contemporary British music and premiered several works by British composers including Birtwistle's The Mask of Orpheus, (ENO).

Langridge was also a champion of many important 20th-Century roles including Mark in Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage.

Langridge's command of a wide variety of styles is reflected in his extensive discography, ranging from the early classical to the present day, and which earned him numerous awards including two Grammys.

His last performances on stage were with The Metropolitan Opera, New York in December 2009 and January 2010 where he reprised the role of The Witch in Richard Jones' production of Hänsel und Gretel.

Langridge leaves his wife Ann Murray, herself a mezzo-soprano, and their son Jonathan.

Langridge also had three children from a previous marriage, one of whom is the opera director, Stephen Langridge.

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