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Alfredo Kraus as the Duke in Rigoletto at his Metropolitan Opera debut.

Alfredo Kraus Trujillo (24 September 1927 ‚Äď 10 September 1999) was a distinguished Spanish tenor of partly Austrian descent, particularly known for the artistry he brought to opera's bel canto roles.[1] He was also considered an outstanding interpreter of the title role in Massenet's opera Werther, and especially of its famous aria, "Pourquoi me r√©veiller?"[2]

Contents

Early years

Kraus was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands of Spain. He began his musical career at age four, when he took piano lessons, and he sang in the school choir by age eight. His older brother, Francisco Kraus Trujillo, a baritone, studied music and opera alongside him.

Career

In 1956, Kraus made his professional operatic debut in Cairo as the Duke in Rigoletto, which became one of his signature roles. In 1958, he sang Alfredo at the Teatro Nacional de S√£o Carlos in Lisbon in a production of La Traviata with Maria Callas, a live recording of which was later released.

Kraus made his Covent Garden debut as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor in 1959 and his La Scala debut as Elvino in La Sonnambula in 1960. He made his American debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1962, and his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1966 in Rigoletto, the role of his last performance there in 1994.

In subsequent decades, Kraus extended his repertoire to include more Italian operas such as Lucrezia Borgia, La fille du régiment, Linda di Chamounix, Don Pasquale and La favorita by Donizetti; and French operas such as Roméo et Juliette, Les contes d'Hoffmann, Faust and Lakmé, while continuing to sing his hallmark roles of Werther and of Des Grieux in Manon. He also recorded a number of rarely performed French operas including La jolie fille de Perth and Les pêcheurs de perles, both by Georges Bizet, and La muette de Portici by Daniel Auber. He also performed in some very well-known works, such as Don Giovanni, Tales of Hoffman and Faust.

Kraus came to be virtually synonymous with such lyric tenor roles as Werther, Faust, Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Nemorino, and Arturo. He was also known for his performances of lighter music, notably zarzuela and Spanish folk songs, which he recorded on his own label, Carillon.

Technique

Thanks to his superlative technique and careful husbanding of his vocal resources, Kraus sang onstage until his early 70s. He studied voice technique in Milan with Mercedes Llopart. Students of this famous soprano include: Anna Moffo, Fiorenza Cossotto, Ivo Vinco, Renata Scotto, Greek soprano Elena Souliotis, and Venezuelan soprano Cecilia N√ļ√Īez Albanese.

Kraus was also noted for extremely refined musicianship, accompanied by a seemingly effortless high register. As a result, many opera connoisseurs consider him to be one of the best tenors of the end of the 20th century. Several interviews with Kraus show him to be an intelligent man with a great deal of thought behind the artistic choices in his roles. He was admired for his cultivated musical education and his complete respect for his chosen profession. His first priority was the integrity of his artistic interpretation of a piece, rather than his formidable range and excellent technique.

He performed all over the world, including the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Teatro Municipal in Caracas, Teatro Municipal in Santiago, Chile, Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, and Liceu in Barcelona.

In 1991, Kraus was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award. In 1997, his home city of Las Palmas opened The Alfredo Kraus Auditorium in his honor.

Later years

The loss of his wife in 1997 affected Kraus so deeply that he stopped performing for eight months. A proud and strong-willed man, he eventually returned to the stage and to teaching. He said, "I don't have the will for singing but I must do it, because, in a sense, it is a sign that I have overcome the tragedy. Singing is a form of admitting that I'm alive."

Kraus died on September 10, 1999 in Madrid, at the age of 71, after a long illness.

References

  1. ^ Kozinn, Allan, Obituary: Alfredo Kraus, New York Times, September 11, 1999.
  2. ^ Matheopoulos, Helena, Bravo - The World's Great Male Singers Discuss Their Roles, 1989, Victor Gollancz Ltd., pp. 111-116

External links

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