Since his debut in 1952, the Swedish-born lyrical tenor Nicolai Gedda has come to be known one of the greatest tenors of the 20tc Century. Over the course of his five-decade-long career, he took the world’s stages by storm and recorded more than 200 albums, becoming the most recorded tenor in history.
Gedda’s voice—crystal-clear and elegant, with clarion high notes and a seductive middle register—remains unforgettable. He had three octaves and an astoundingly consistent yet silken timbre. His singing was always well supported and confidently delivered.
During his early musical upbringing, he developed a strong ambition to become an opera singer, but, as he lacked the money to study, he instead got a job as a bank teller at a local bank in Stockholm. One day a wealthy client overheard him speaking about his aspirations to sing professionally, and offered to pay for his tuition to study with Carl Martin Öhman—a well-known Wagnerian tenor of the late 1920s.
The singer was also greatly admired for the extraordinary range of his stylistic mastery: fluent in six languages, with impeccable diction and an industrious spirit. Gedda’s repertoire included countless operatic roles, songs and choral works in Italian, German, French, Russian, English, Norwegian, Finnish, Spanish and Swedish compositions. He performed well over 100 roles on opera stages throughout Europe and America, from Gluck to Menotti.