Kathryn Lewek, the US soprano who sang at this summer’s Bregenz Festival with the lamented British bass, has sent us an instant response to news of his death. Richard collapsed yesterday while rehearsing Peter Grimes at Opera North. He died hours later in hospital.
Tonight I am remembering Richard Angas.
I am not a family member, or a close friend, and in all honesty, I can’t say that I knew him very well. He was my colleague. A fellow singer. Many of you will understand instantly that this means that for a brief time in my life, because we shared the stage, we shared a certain companionship and camaraderie together with our cast-mates, crew, and leading team that felt…well…like a family.
Richard and I worked together this summer for 6 weeks in Bregenz, Austria in the world premiere production of Andre Tchaikowsky’s The Merchant of Venice. His was not a large role, as ‘The Duke’, but extremely memorable and impressive. Every syllable that he uttered was like a magnetic jewel that attracted all ears. I stood backstage (20 minutes before I should have been there) simply so I could let his booming voice shock me every time — “ANTONIO!!!” — simply arresting.
But what I loved most were the jokes and stories he entertained me with while we sat next to each other during our make up calls during Act II. As the sweat of Act I was powdered off my face, and he had multiple pieces of facial hair glued upon his, I loved hearing him recall memories of his long career, and share advice with me, the newbie. I treasured his kind words of encouragement and inspiration for my budding career. He reminded me to cherish my husband and my family, for as much as we think we as artists sacrifice for our careers, our family sacrifices more.
Richard made a point of visiting everyone at their dressing rooms before each performance, giving a personal Toi Toi Toi to each of us…to me, he was an artist of tradition, exceptional talent and presence, and special kindness. My thoughts are with Roseanne, his wife, who met him at his dressing room with a big smile after every performance. Rest in peace, my friend