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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 11 July 1925Stockholm, Sweden
Birth NameNicolai Ustinov

Mini Bio (1)

Nicolai Harry Gustav Gedda (Nikolaj Ustinov) was born on July 11, 1925, in Stockholm, Sweden. He was adopted by his Russian-Swedish aunt, named Olga Gedda, and her Russian husband, named Mikhail Ustinov; who came to Sweden after the Russian Civil War and sang with an émigré Don Cossac choir and also was a cantor in a Russian Orthodox Church.

His first voice and music teacher was his father. He took his adopted son to the Cossac choir rehearsals and to a Russian Orthodox Church services in Leipzig, where they lived from 1928-1934. The family had to flee from the tide of Nazism under Adolf Hitler. Back in Stockholm he continued singing with his father in the Russian church. Gedda initially worked as a bank teller at a local Stockholm bank, where a wealthy client overheard him speaking of his dream of becoming a professional opera singer. The sponsor paid for his studies with tenor Karl Martin Oehmann at the Stockholm Conservatory.

Gedda made his debut in April 1952 at the Stockholm Opera in the role of Chapelou in Adam's 'Postillon de Longjumeau'. After a success in Stockhiln, he was auditioned by Herbert von Karajan. He was so impressed that he took Gedda along to Italy, promoting him both in concerts and opera performances. In 1953 he was contracted by La Scala to sing Don Ottavio in "Don Giovanni" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In 1954 he made his Paris Opera debut in Oberon by Carl Maria von Weber. A few months later he sang the title role in Faust by Charles Gounod. Since then Gedda had a permanent engagement with the Paris opera for several years and established himself as the leading interpreter of the French repertoire.

In 1957, Gedda made his debut at the Pittsburg Opera with the title role in 'Faust'. In November of 1957 he made his Metropolitan Opera debut with the same role. In 1958, Gedda created the role of Anatol in the premiere of 'Vanessa'. The role was specially written for him by Samuel Barber. Gedda sang with the Met for the next 26 seasons and performed 28 roles there. He also continued his voice training in New York with the international teacher Paola Novikoa. She taught Gedda a healthy technique, contributing to his long and successful career. His latest recordings were made in 2003.

Gedda's mastery of nine languages enables him to singing with total freedom the entire standard operatic repertoire. He sings with natural beauty on Italian, English, Latin, Hebrew, French, German, Pan-Scandinavian, and his native Russian and Swedish. Nicolai Gedda is arguably the most versatile of tenors in the second half of the 20th Century. Luciano Pavarotti said of him, "there is no tenor with a greater ease in the upper register than Gedda." He is equally strong in opera and song. He made over 200 recordings over the course of his career. In the autobiography 'My Life and Art' (1999), written in collaboration with his third wife, Aino Sellermark Gedda, he revealed his devotion to art and his indifference to fame.

Nicolai Gedda is living in retirement in Switzerland.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (3)

? (1953 - 1963) (divorced)
Aino Sellermark (? - present)
? (? - ?) (divorced)

Trivia (1)

Perhaps EMI/Angel Records' most often recorded tenor of the 1960s, and one of the world's great operatic voices.

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