Although his is not a household name, Anthony Rolfe Johnson had an important career in the late ’70s through the ’90s, in a wide variety of opera. The New York Times had this obituary today. The interesting tidbit is that he didn’t start studying voice until he was 30 years old.
I have several of his recordings, especially Britten operas, and his career rather closely parallels that of Philip Langridge, another British tenor who died earlier this year. He was especially effective as the Earl of Essex in a video recording of Britten’s Gloriana, with the astonishing Sarah Walker as Queen Elizabeth I, in a noteworthy production from the English National Opera directed by Colin Graham. Rolfe Johnson also performed the title character in Britten’s Peter Grimes in many productions and on CD, and Gustav von Aschenbach in Britten’s Death in Venice at the Met, in a multimedia production, that was unfortunately not very popular with the paying public and was never revived. Rolfe Johnson also recorded much Mozart, Bach and other composers.