Richard Angas, a beloved veteran of British opera, spent his final moments giving one last performance as an operatic bass. The singer died at the age of 71 after collapsing Tuesday during a rehearsal for Opera North's new production of Peter Grimes. He was rushed to the hospital where he died shortly afterwards. Angas was scheduled to sing the role of Swallow in the production, still due to open in mid-September.
A principal singer at English National Opera (ENO) for over 30 years, Angas was known for his large physique and larger than life personality. “Richard was a man of great stature in every sense of the word: his imposing height, his magnificent voice and his warmth and strength of character,” ENO stated on its website. At six-foot-seven-inches tall, he dominated the stage and is remembered for his comic and often outrageous roles.
Angas began his career as a professional opera singer after attending the Royal Academy of Music in the 1960s. The English-born singer debuted at ENO in its 1980 production of Aida. Perhaps Angas’ most famous role was the title character in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. He sang the role of the Mikado more than 150 times at ENO, where Jonathan Miller’s production of the comic opera was an iconic success. Angas recently reprised the role he originated in 1986.
But his biography transcends comic operas, including roles in Puccini’s La Boheme, Verdi’s Falstaff, and Wagner’s Flying Dutchman. He sang at the Metropolitan Opera in 1988 when ENO brought its production of Prokofiev’s War and Peace overseas. He spent this year performing in Welsh National Opera’s Lulu, The Cunning Little Vixen and Wagner Dream.
Angas is survived by his wife, retired mezzo-soprano Roseanne Creffield, and their son. "The opera world has lost a great talent and we have lost a loved and respected colleague and friend,” English National Opera wrote. “Our thoughts are with his loved ones.”