Sad news: Robert Tear is dead

Sad news: Robert Tear is dead


norman lebrecht

March 29, 2011

The international Welsh tenor, infinitely agreeable and versatile, has died at 72.

Robert Tear was an integral member of the London scene and in high demand at the musical summits, working with most major conductors and appearing on no fewer than 250 records.
He was Simon Rattle’s tenor of choice for Mahler and everyone’s for Britten, owning the role of Quint in Turn of the Screw and delivering indelible performances of the War Requiem. Bearded and bald, he was unmissable on a crowded stage.
My fondest memories of him are in the songs of Ralph Vaughan Williams, which he performed as instinctually and upliftingly as a deer skipping on the crest of a hill. May he rest in peace.

LATE EXTRA: The Royal Opera House Covent Garden is dedicating tonight’s Fidelio to his memory.
And here’s Bob with Julian Bream on youtube.


  • Leo Phillips says:

    That is sad news indeed.
    I have heard him many times but, most in the memory, was when he stepped in at the VERY last minute (original tenor not allowed to leave bomb affected train, and it just so happened someone knew RT had planned to have quiet night in) for Beethoven 9 with COE at Barbican with N. Harnoncourt. No rehearsal. He couldn’t have been bettered.

  • Marie Lamb says:

    My colleagues and I thank you for the tribute to a great artist, and also for the very fitting video. The lady in Dowland’s song is not the only person weeping today, I’m sure.

  • Bruce Paulsen says:

    A wonderfully wise singer who always seemed to be just the best possible singer for whatever he chose to sing. And despite all the distinguished performances of Britten, Vaughan Williams, et. al., the tune that is running through my mind is the inimitable performance of “The Dicky Bird and The Owl” with Benjamin Luxon and Andre Previn. Even on this sad occasion, Robert gives us a smile.

  • david wilson-johnson says:

    yes I think I was that “someone!”…..Bob and I were on stage the previous evening at the ROH in Boris…..and due to a confusion (agent’s fault as ever) over dates I was also due to sing the Beethoven 9 with Harnoncourt. I managed to do both, singing Shelkalof’s first scene at the ROH, leaping into a taxi still in costume, changing into tails as I went to the Barbican, sang the fourth movement OF LVB9 and leaped into the waiting taxi to return for my last scene at the
    ROH. The only person to know what was happening was the stage manager who held the interval curtain for a couple of extra minutes until I called to say i was on my way!
    The tenor who had done the Beethoven wasnt having a particularly good night and I thought he’d probably cancel the next days show, so when I got back on stage …upstage it was very dark Tarkofsky’s staging… I whispered to Bob, singing Shuisky, to stay by the phone the next evening. He was going to have a chinese meal he said….and when I arrived at the Barbican for the next evening, the organisers were running around desperately looking for a tenor to replace the original tenor who was stuck on a train. One call and Bob was there by tube within half an hour…..he hadnt seen Harnoncourt for a quarter of a century…and when Bob asked how he would like his Beethoven 9 Harnoncourt said ” like a madrigal” BOB, BLESS HIM, DID JUST THAT.
    I shall miss him immensely…