Philip Langridge dies at 70; versatile British tenor

Philip Langridge, who had a long association with the Royal Opera, starred in a Los Angeles Opera production of Benjamin Britten's "Peter Grimes" in 2000, above.
(Los Angeles Times)
Times Staff And Wire Reports

Philip Langridge, the British tenor who won praise for his vocal versatility and subtle characterization, has died. He was 70.

Langridge died Friday after a short battle with cancer, the Royal Opera House announced.

His death “leaves a large hole in the world’s music,” composer Harrison Birtwistle said.

Langridge was born Dec. 16, 1939, in Hawkhurst, southern England, and studied at the Royal Academy of Music. He began his career as an orchestral violinist, but turned to singing, making his professional operatic debut in Richard Strauss’ “Capriccio” at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1964.


He had a long association with the Royal Opera with roles including Basilio in “The Marriage of Figaro” and Loge in Wagner’s “Das Rheingold.”

One of his last roles was as the witch in Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in December.

He was praised for performances in operas by Benjamin Britten, including the title role in “Peter Grimes” and Aschenbach in “Death in Venice,” and originated roles in works by Birtwistle and other contemporary composers. Langridge starred in a Los Angeles Opera production of “Peter Grimes” in 2000.

Among his many prizes were two Grammy awards for recordings of “Peter Grimes” and Arnold Schoenberg’s “Moses und Aron.”

He is survived by his wife, mezzo-soprano Ann Murray; their son, Jonathan, and three children from his previous marriage, opera director Stephen Langridge and daughters Anita and Jennifer.