Tenor Jerry Hadley Is Dead at 55

Obituaries   Tenor Jerry Hadley Is Dead at 55
Jerry Hadley, one of America's and the world's leading operatic tenors of the 1980s and '90s, died the morning of July 18 at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, NY, of complications from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Jerry Hadley
Jerry Hadley

He had been in a coma ever since his suicide attempt last week, and was recently been taken off life support following a review by the hospital's medical ethics committee and administration of last rites.

Family spokesperson Celia P. Novo said that Hadley died at 11:20 AM July 18. His breathing became labored July 17 and remained that way, according to The Daily Freeman of Kingston, NY.

"He was never in any pain," she told the paper. "He never regained consciousness, never responded to any stimulus."

Hadley distinguished himself on a number of studio recordings of musicals in the past 20 years, including the complete Show Boat recording (he played Gaylord Ravenal), Street Scene and the Bernstein-conducted "definitive" Candide (he played the title role).

* The 55-year-old Hadley was recruited to New York City Opera in the late 1970s, reportedly by Beverly Sills, and went on during the 1980s and '90s to perform and record lyric and bel canto tenor roles with major opera houses in Europe and the U.S., including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera (Covent Garden), La Scala, and the Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence and Salzburg Festivals. In 1999, he created the title role in John Harbison's opera The Great Gatsby at the Met; he repeated the role when the Met revived the opera in 2002. That was his last appearance at the house.

Hadley frequently performed the Broadway and operetta repertoire as well; indeed, two of his most celebrated recordings are the 1988 EMI release of the complete Show Boat (which also featured Teresa Stratas and Frederica von Stade) and Leonard Bernstein's late recording of his own Candide (alongside June Anderson, Adolph Green and Christa Ludwig).

In recent years Hadley's operatic career had fallen off, amid talk among the opera community that he was having vocal difficulties. He did perform symphonic pops concerts, however, and appeared with smaller companies. His most recent operatic engagement was as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Opera Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

For more about Jerry Hadley, visit www.playbillarts.com.

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