Samuel Ramey

Last updated
Samuel Ramey
Samuel Edward Ramey

(1942-03-28) March 28, 1942 (age 77)
OccupationOperatic bass, actor
Years active1973–present

Samuel Edward Ramey (born March 28, 1942, Colby, Kansas) is an American operatic bass. [1] [2]

Colby, Kansas City and County seat in Kansas, United States

Colby is a city in and the county seat of Thomas County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 5,387.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Opera Artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.


At the height of his career he was greatly admired for his range and versatility, having possessed a sufficiently accomplished bel canto technique to enable him to sing the music of Handel, Mozart and Rossini, yet with power enough to handle the more overtly dramatic roles in Verdi and Puccini.

Bel canto —with several similar constructions —is a term with several meanings that relate to Italian singing.

George Frideric Handel 18th-century German, later British, Baroque composer

George FridericHandel was a German, later British, Baroque composer who spent the bulk of his career in London, becoming well known for his operas, oratorios, anthems, and organ concertos. Handel received important training in Halle and worked as a composer in Hamburg and Italy before settling in London in 1712; he became a naturalised British subject in 1727. He was strongly influenced both by the great composers of the Italian Baroque and by the middle-German polyphonic choral tradition.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Austrian composer of the Classical period

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era.

Early life

Ramey graduated from Colby High School in Colby, Kansas in 1960. He studied music in high school and in college at Kansas State University, as well as at Wichita State with Arthur Newman. In college at Kansas State, he was a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

Colby High School (Kansas) Public school in Colby, Kansas, USA

Colby High School is a public school in Colby, Kansas. It is located on 1890 S. Franklin Avenue. It enrolls approximately 300 students every year. The current principal is Stephanie McNemar.

Kansas State University Public university in Manhattan, Kansas, US

Kansas State University (KSU), commonly shortened to Kansas State or K-State, is a public research university with its main campus in Manhattan, Kansas, United States. Kansas State was opened as the state's land-grant college in 1863 and was the first public institution of higher learning in the state of Kansas. It had a record high enrollment of 24,766 students for the Fall 2014 semester.

Arthur Newman was an American operatic baritone and actor. He began his career as a stage actor in St. Louis in the early 1930s and in 1939 began an opera career. He was notably a member of the New York City Opera between 1945 and 1959 during which time he performed in more than 1,300 performances with the company in over 50 roles.

After further study in Central City (where he was in the chorus of Don Giovanni in 1963, with Norman Treigle in the title role) and as an apprentice with the Santa Fe Opera, he went to New York City where he worked for an academic publisher before he had his first breakthrough at the New York City Opera, debuting on March 11, 1973 as Zuniga in the 1875 Bizet opera Carmen , after which, among other roles, he took over the Faustian devils in Gounod's Faust and Boito's Mefistofele vacated by the early death of Treigle.

Norman Treigle (né Adanelle Wilfred Treigle was an American operatic bass-baritone, who was acclaimed for his great abilities as a singing-actor, and specialized in roles that evoked villainy and terror.

Santa Fe Opera opera company in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe Opera (SFO) is an American opera company, located 7 miles (11 km) north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. After creating the Opera Association of New Mexico in 1956, its founding director, John Crosby, oversaw the building of the first opera house on a newly acquired former guest ranch of 199 acres (0.81 km2).

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

As his repertoire expanded he spent more and more time in the theaters of Europe, notably in Berlin, Hamburg, London, Paris, Milan, Vienna and the summer festivals in Aix-en-Provence, Glyndebourne, Pesaro and Salzburg.

Berlin State Opera opera house

The Berlin State Opera is a German opera company based in Berlin. Its permanent home is the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, commonly referred to as Lindenoper, in the central Mitte district, which also hosts the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra. Originally the Hofoper from 1742, it was named Königliches Opernhaus in 1844, and Staatsoper Unter den Linden in 1918. From 1949 to 1990 it housed the state opera of East Germany. Since 2004, the State Opera company belongs to the Berlin Opera Foundation, like the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Komische Oper Berlin, the Berlin State Ballet, and the Bühnenservice Berlin.

Hamburg State Opera opera building in Hamburg, Germany

The Hamburg State Opera is a German opera company based in Hamburg. Its theatre is located near the square of Gänsemarkt. Since 2015, the current Intendant of the company is Georges Delnon, and the current Generalmusikdirektor of the company is Kent Nagano.

Milan Italian city

Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,395,274 while its metropolitan city has a population of 3,257,535. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres. The wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age.

Later career

In January 1984, Ramey made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in Handel's Rinaldo . He has since become a fixture at the Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, the Paris Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the New York City Opera and the San Francisco Opera. In July 1985 he was cast as Bertram in the historic revival in Paris of Giacomo Meyerbeer's Robert le diable .

Metropolitan Opera Opera company in Manhattan, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

<i>Rinaldo</i> (opera) 1711 opera by George Frideric Handel

Rinaldo is an opera by George Frideric Handel, composed in 1711, and was the first Italian language opera written specifically for the London stage. The libretto was prepared by Giacomo Rossi from a scenario provided by Aaron Hill, and the work was first performed at the Queen's Theatre in London's Haymarket on 24 February 1711. The story of love, war and redemption, set at the time of the First Crusade, is loosely based on Torquato Tasso's epic poem Gerusalemme liberata, and its staging involved many original and vivid effects. It was a great success with the public, despite negative reactions from literary critics hostile to the contemporary trend towards Italian entertainment in English theatres.

Royal Opera House opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London

The Royal Opera House (ROH) is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel's first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.

In the bel canto repertoire, Ramey has sung in Mozart's Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro , as well as in Rossini's Semiramide , The Barber of Seville , Il Turco in Italia , L'italiana in Algeri , and La Gazza Ladra ; in Donizetti's Anna Bolena and Lucia di Lammermoor and Bellini's I puritani . In the dramatic repertoire, Ramey has been acclaimed for his "Three Devils": Boito's Mefistofele , Gounod's Faust and Berlioz's dramatic legend Damnation of Faust . [3]

Other dramatic roles have included Verdi's Nabucco , Don Carlo , I masnadieri , I Lombardi and Jérusalem , as well as Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann (portraying all four villains).

In 1990, he sang Joe in Jerome Kern's Showboat in a concert performance at Avery Fisher Hall with Jerry Hadley and Frederica von Stade. [4]

A number of previously obscure operas with strong bass/bass-baritone roles have been revived solely for Ramey, such as Verdi's Attila , Rossini's Maometto II and Massenet's Don Quichotte. He provided the voice for The Beast, the main antagonist of the 2014 animated miniseries Over the Garden Wall . [5]


Ramey has made an exceptionally large number of recordings documenting many of his main operatic roles as well as collections of miscellaneous arias, other classical pieces, and crossover discs of popular American music. He has also appeared on television and video productions of the Met's productions of Carmen and Bluebeard's Castle , San Francisco's production of Mefistofele, Glyndebourne's production of The Rake's Progress and Salzburg's production of Don Giovanni. [6]

In 1996, Ramey gave a concert at New York's Avery Fisher Hall titled "A Date with the Devil" in which he sang 14 arias representing the core of this repertory. He continues to tour this program throughout the world. [7] In 2000, Ramey presented this concert at Munich's Gasteig Concert Hall. This performance was recorded live, and was released on compact disc in summer 2002.[ citation needed ]

Current activities

He has participated in some 70 performances a year. He formerly served as a member of the faculty at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts and is currently a Distinguished Professor of Opera at Wichita State University's School of Music. [8]

Ramey was named an inaugural member of the WSU College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame in 2015. [9] He is a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity.[ citation needed ]

He reprised the title role of "Duke Bluebeard" in Opera Omaha's production of Bluebeard's Castle in April 2013 in Omaha, Nebraska. [10]


He married his third wife, soprano Lindsey Larsen, on June 29, 2002. [11]


Barbablù Il castello di Barbablù Bartók
Dr Pangloss Candide Bernstein
Oroveso Norma Bellini
Sir Giorgio I puritani Bellini
Méphistophélès La damnation de Faust Berlioz
Escamillo Carmen Bizet
Mefistofele Mefistofele Boito
John Claggart Billy Budd Britten
Riccardo III Riccardo III Canepa
La Père Louise Charpentier
Enrico VIII Anna Bolena Donizetti
Raimondo Bidebent Lucia di Lammermoor Donizetti
Andrea Cornaro Caterina Cornaro Donizetti
OlinSusannah Floyd
Méphistophélès Faust Gounod
Argante Rinaldo Händel
Garibaldo Rodelinda Händel
Il Re di Scozia Ariodante Händel
Semele Händel
Idreno Armida Haydn
Le Comte Des Grieux Manon Massenet
Le ComteChérubinMassenet
Don QuichotteDon QuichotteMassenet
Bertram Robert le diable Meyerbeer
Figaro Le nozze di Figaro Mozart
Don Giovanni
Don Giovanni Mozart
Sarastro Die Zauberflöte Mozart
Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov Mussorgsky
Les contes d'Hoffmann Offenbach
Alvise Badoero La Gioconda Ponchielli
KutuzovGuerra e pace Prokof'ev
Colline La bohème Puccini
Barone Scarpia
Cesare Angelotti
Tosca Puccini
Rambaldo La rondine Puccini
Timur Turandot Puccini
Gaudenzio Il signor Bruschino Rossini
Mustafà L'italiana in Algeri Rossini
Selim Il turco in Italia Rossini
Don Basilio Il barbiere di Siviglia Rossini
Elmiro Otello Rossini
Podestà Gottardo La gazza ladra Rossini
Douglas d'Angus La donna del lago Rossini
Maometto secondo Maometto secondo Rossini
Assur Semiramide Rossini
Lord Sidney Il viaggio a Reims Rossini
Moïse Mosè in Egitto Rossini
Le Gouverneur Le comte Ory Rossini
Un vecchio ebreo Samson et Dalila Saint-Saëns
Orest Elektra Strauss
Nick Shadow The Rake's Progress Stravinsky
Claudius Hamlet Thomas
Oberto Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio Verdi
Zaccaria Nabucco Verdi
Pagano I Lombardi alla prima crociata Verdi
Jacopo Loredano I due Foscari Verdi
Attila Verdi
Banco Macbeth Verdi
Massimiliano Moor I masnadieri Verdi
Comte de Toulouse Jérusalem Verdi
Wurm Luisa Miller Verdi
Rigoletto Verdi
Padre Guardiano La forza del destino Verdi
Filippo II
Il Grande Inquisitore
Don Carlos Verdi
Ramfis Aida Verdi

Related Research Articles

<i>Otello</i> opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi

Otello is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on Shakespeare's play Othello. It was Verdi's penultimate opera, and was first performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on 5 February 1887.

Arrigo Boito Italian opera composer and librettist of Verdis opera Otello

Arrigo Boito was an Italian poet, journalist, novelist, librettist and composer, best known today for his libretti, especially those for Giuseppe Verdi's last two monumental operas Otello and Falstaff and his own opera Mefistofele. Along with Emilio Praga and his own brother Camillo Boito, he is regarded as one of the prominent representatives of the Scapigliatura artistic movement.

<i>Mefistofele</i> opera by Arrigo Boito

Mefistofele is an opera in a prologue, four acts and an epilogue, the only completed opera with music by the Italian composer-librettist Arrigo Boito. The opera was given its premiere on 5 March 1868 at La Scala, Milan, under the baton of the composer, despite his lack of experience and skill as a conductor.

A mezzo-soprano or mezzo (, ; Italian pronunciation: [ˈmɛddzo soˈpraːno] meaning "half soprano") is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range lies between the soprano and the contralto voice types. The mezzo-soprano's vocal range usually extends from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above (i.e. A3–A5 in scientific pitch notation, where middle C = C4; 220–880 Hz). In the lower and upper extremes, some mezzo-sopranos may extend down to the F below middle C (F3, 175 Hz) and as high as "high C" (C6, 1047 Hz). The mezzo-soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, lyric, and dramatic mezzo-soprano.

Nicolai Ghiaurov was a Bulgarian opera singer and one of the most famous basses of the postwar period. He was admired for his powerful, sumptuous voice, and was particularly associated with roles of Mussorgsky and Verdi. Ghiaurov married the Bulgarian pianist Zlatina Mishakova in 1956 and Italian soprano Mirella Freni in 1978, and the two singers frequently performed together. They lived in Modena until Ghiaurov's death in 2004 of a heart attack.

Jozef Kundlák Slovak opera singer

Jozef Kundlák is a Slovak tenor.

Franco Faccio Italian composer and conductor

Francesco (Franco) Antonio Faccio was an Italian composer and conductor. Born in Verona, he studied music at the Milan Conservatory from 1855 where he was a pupil of Stefano Ronchetti-Monteviti and, as scholar William Ashbrook notes, "where he struck up a lifelong friendship with Arrigo Boito, two years his junior" and with whom he was to collaborate in many ways.

Phyllis Treigle is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and is a noted American soprano, and the daughter of the bass-baritone Norman Treigle. She graduated from Loyola University of the South's College of Music and made her professional debut with the New Orleans Opera Association as Flora Bervoix, in La traviata, in 1980.

Susanne Marsee American mezzo-soprano

Susanne Marsee is an American mezzo-soprano of note, particularly acclaimed as a singing-actress.

Harry Theyard is an American operatic tenor.

Frank Corsaro was one of America's foremost stage directors of opera and theatre. His Broadway productions include The Night of the Iguana (1961).

Adamo Didur Polish singer

Adam Didur or Adamo Didur was a famous Polish operatic bass singer. He sang extensively in Europe and had a major career at New York's Metropolitan Opera from 1908 to 1932.

Beverly Wolff American mezzo-soprano

Beverly Wolff was an American mezzo-soprano who had an active career in concerts and operas from the early 1950s to the early 1980s. She performed a broad repertoire which encompassed operatic and concert works in many languages and from a variety of musical periods. She was a champion of new works, notably premiering compositions by Leonard Bernstein, Gian Carlo Menotti, Douglas Moore, and Ned Rorem among other American composers. She also performed in a number of rarely heard baroque operas by George Frideric Handel with the New York City Opera (NYCO), the Handel Society of New York, and at the Kennedy Center Handel Festivals.

Gianni Poggi Italian opera singer

Gianni Poggi was an Italian tenor, particularly associated with the Italian repertory.

Romilda Pantaleoni Italian soprano

Romilda Pantaleoni was an Italian soprano who had a prolific opera career in Italy during the 1870s and 1880s. She sang a wide repertoire that encompassed bel canto roles, Italian and French grand opera, verismo operas, and the German operas of Richard Wagner. She became particularly associated with the roles of Margherita in Boito's Mefistofele and the title role in Ponchielli's La Gioconda; two roles which she performed in opera houses throughout Italy. She is best remembered today for originating the roles of Desdemona in Giuseppe Verdi's Otello (1887) and Tigrana in Giacomo Puccini's Edgar (1889). Universally admired for her acting skills as well as her singing abilities, Pantaleoni was compared by several critics to the great Italian stage actress Eleonora Duse.

Francesco Marconi was an operatic tenor from Rome who enjoyed an important international career. In 1924, a reputable biographical dictionary of musicians called him 'one of the most renowned and esteemed singers of the last 50 years'. Along with his great contemporary Francesco Tamagno (1850–1905), he is the earliest Italian tenor to have left a representative legacy of acoustic recordings.

Salvador Novoa is a Mexican dramatic tenor. He is especially known for the operas of Alberto Ginastera.

Ildar Abdrazakov Russian operatic bass

Ildar Amirovich Abdrazakov is a Russian bass opera singer.

Tomasz Konina was a Polish theatre and opera director and stage designer.


  1. Ralph Blumenthal, "The Devil? He's a Basso Whose Voice Is Heavenly", The New York Times , February 17, 1998.
  2. Anthony Tommasini, "An Aw Shucks Manner, but Don't Be Fooled: He's an Absolute Devil", The New York Times, November 5, 1999.
  3. "About the Performer: Samuel Ramey". Los Angeles Philharmonic. March 2000. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  4. "Flicka and Friends: From Rossini to Show Boat (1990)". Live from Lincoln Center. IMDb . Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  5. Houston, Shannon M. (December 26, 2014). "The Best Animated TV Shows of 2014". Paste . Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  6. Feeney, Anne. "Samuel Ramey: Discography". AllMusic . Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  7. Ashley, Tim (July 5, 2000). "A Date with the Devil: Samuel Ramey". The Guardian . Manchester, UK. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  8. "Opera star Sam Ramey to be WSU guest artist in residence" (Press release). Wichita State University. August 29, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  9. "College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame selects 12 for inaugural induction class" (Press release). Wichita State University. March 9, 2015.
  10. "Sam Ramey in Bluebeard's Castle". Opera Omaha. May 18, 2012. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  11. "WEDDINGS; Lindsey Larsen, Samuel Ramey". The New York Times. June 30, 2002. Retrieved September 16, 2017.