Sad news: Death of enterprising baritone and festival director, aged 57

Sad news: Death of enterprising baritone and festival director, aged 57


norman lebrecht

November 21, 2015

We have been informed of the passing of Richard Cowan, an American bass-baritone who sang leading roles in major US and European houses and in 1998 founded the Lyrique en Mer opera festival in Belle Île, France.

Richard had been struggling for several years with illness; his death was announced by the festival.

As a performer, Richard came first to attention in Berg’s Lulu at the Maggio Musicale, Chicago and San Francisco. In 1990, he played the opening night of the Met as Chaunard in La Bohème.

His signature role was Bluebeard in Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard Castle, which he played at Deutsche Oper Berlin, Geneva, Turin, Melbourne, Liège, and at his own festival.

Our sympathies to his widow, Uliana Kozhevnikova, his daughter, Alexandra Cowan, and loved ones.

A memorial service will be held in Pittsburgh, early next month.


richard cowan


  • Isabel Wolf says:

    Thank you, Norman. Greatly appreciated!

  • Respect says:

    I did a production of “Rakes” with Richard in Spoleto, he was a find singer/actor and enjoyable colleague. Sad to hear of this untimely passing.

  • Bassoken says:

    I last saw Richard just prior to his joining the faculty at Carnegie Mellon. We shared the stage a number of times, and I thought very highly of him as a colleague. I only today have learned of his passing, now almost three years ago. My heart breaks as if he left us yesterday. Sing with God, Richard…