Sad news: Met bass-baritone has died

Sad news: Met bass-baritone has died


norman lebrecht

October 29, 2016

Colleagues are sharing their distress at the death yesterday of John Del Carlo, a well-loved American soloist who sang 285 performances at the Metropolitan Opera over the past 23 years. John was 65.

John played the title role in Don Pasquale, Dr Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia , Swallow in Peter Grimes, Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mathieu in Andrea Chenier, Colonel Frank in Die Fledermaus, Baron Zeta in The Merry Widow, and Alfieri in the Met’s premiere of Bolcom’s  A View from the Bridge.

He was also a stalwart at San Francisco Opera, his home town.

Internationally, he sang at Covent Garden, Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Trieste, Zurich Cologne, Deutsche Oper am Rhein and Vlaamse Opera.



  • John Russell says:

    Wonderful, ebullient sweet man and friend to all. Big, booming voice and great sense of comic timing made him one of the most outstanding character basses at Met in the last quarter-century! John will be sorely missed and irreplaceable.
    Gone way too soon, John Del Carlo.

  • Fernando says:

    I will never forget his portrayal of Don Pasquale and all his joy singing and repeating the famous duet with Mariusz Kwiecień and James Levine at the Met, fortunately captured in video.

    • Nardo Poy says:

      Yes – I played in those performances with him, as well as many Barber of Sevilles when he played the role of Don Bartolo. He also had a minor role in Die Fledermaus. He was one of the funniest character players with whom I have ever had the pleasure of performing. He never failed to make me guffaw.

  • Erico says:

    A great Falstaff in Salieri’s opera. RIP.

  • Nardo Poy says:

    Wow. He was one of my favorites. He would keep me laughing while I sat in the pit and played. Very sad.

  • Michael Colbruno says:

    He was in our Merola Opera Program in 1977 and made San Francisco his home. He was beloved by all who ever crossed paths with him.

  • Berta Calechman says:

    I loved John del Carlo as Bartolo, and Don Pasquale, to name just two of his brilliant creations. But he made a profound impression on me, as a wonderful Sacristan in Tosca, a year or two back. He didn’t portray him as a stock caricature, but as a moving actor, He brought a humanity to the role that I have rarely seen. It was a great portrayal. And I am so glad that when we chatted backstage, I was able to tell him this, and how he brought a new light to the role, for me, after many Toscas He was so pleased to hear this. I am very sad. I will miss him. RIP John.

  • Claudia Siefer says:

    I met John when I joined the San Francisco Opera Chorus in 1975. His voice and great humanity were on constant tap . We shall miss him dearly

  • MacroV says:

    I remember him in the Seattle Ring, back in 1987. I think he sang Donner or Froh. Wasn’t the star of the show, but he sang well enough that I remembered him from then on.

  • Una says:

    You can be the star of the show in so many ways and not be the official star!!

    Here’s an interview done by Bruce Duffie again in Chicago.

  • Steve Bauman says:

    As a supernumerary in San Francisco Opera I well remember John’s humor and warmth backstage while waiting to go on. He was a wonderful positive-spirited person and gave much indeed to the opera world. I’ve followed his career from his chorus days in SFO through the Merola Opera Program, to the Met, and to the world.

    Most sadly missed.

  • Marena Lane says:

    I met John in my San Francisco Opera days and also did a concert version of Carmen with him many years ago. What sad news and a terrible loss to the opera world!

  • Ernest Low says:

    He was Alidoro in the Baltsa recording of Cenerentola and often sang with her. Much missed!

  • Jane Grey Nemeth says:

    John was one of the outstanding Winners of the Luciano Pavarotti Competition. As Director of the Competition, I’ll speak on the behalf of many of us in Philadelphia who enjoyed his wonderful singing and warm personality.

  • Olga says:

    John Del Carlo was a perfect singer and a wonderful actor.
    It is a big loss for all opera lovers.
    My sympathy to his family.

  • Michele Mandrioli says:

    I’m so glad that I have the DVD of him in “Don Pasquale” with Anna Netrebko, Marisz Kwiecien and Matthew Polenzani. He was one of my favorites and I will miss him.

    • Jill Ertola Shustoff says:

      I would love to get a copy of it too. Will check online. Can you tell me where I can find it? RIP my high school friend.

  • Lance Greenfield says:

    John Del Carlo was born in 1951 making him 65 at the time of his passing Oct 28, not 61 as has been erroneously reported.

  • Andi Dorfman says:

    I sang with John in George Washington High School’s chorus, traveled on buses to choral competitions where our group won constantly due to John’s amazing talent and presence, and he sang at our wedding, one of my dearest memories. John was so talented and equally sweet, kind, and thoughtful.
    RIP wonderful John.

  • Stephen Countouriotis says:

    I played violin in the George Washington High School Orchestra in the late 1960s and had the wonderful opportunity to listen to the magnificent voice of our classmate John Del Carlo. We knew then that John was destined for greatness. The world will miss John’s singing but, heaven’s chorus now has another Bass. Rest in peace John.

  • Keith Pierson says:

    A great artist. We have a mutual friend and I was backstage to see him on three occasions. Even once in Waterloo Village NJ when the Met in the Parks was still in progress. Most charming man.

  • John Pettus says:

    I remember John at a George Washington High School talent show. He, of course, sang magnificently. I, not so much. What I remember most about him was not his great talent, which of course he was, but his genuine warmth and encouragement he gave me. A truly great talent and great person.

  • Carol Vaness says:

    John was the most beautiful soul on earth. He gave me strength and beauty when we did any show. Beauty of Music and the beauty of friendship.

  • Bill Pisenti says:

    I remember John Singing the Toreador aria at a Brown Bag performance at Macy’s in San Francisco flinging his cape around.I was so afraid he was going to knock over a table of glasses.Thank God it didn’t happen.

    Bill Pisenti

  • Janet Realini says:

    I was honored to go to my senior prom (GWHS) with John. I have to echo all the comments about his sweet soul, his generosity, and his sense of humor. And he sang to me.

  • Barbara PIrolt says:

    So sad to hear. We lived across the street from the Del Carlo’s in Burlingame, California. We could open our windows and hear John singing.