RICHARD CONRAD (1935-2019) began his vocal studies (as a baritone) in Boston under Dr. Harry Euler Treiber, after graduating from New York State University and Boston University. His repertoire studies were under Felix Wolfes, Aksel Schiøtz, and Pierre Bernac. As he developed an unusual ease in managing the '"head" register, he was encouraged to emulate the baritones of the 18th and the early 19th centuries, many of whom sang as tenors. In 1961 he made his debut in the American première of Mozart's La finta semplice, and two years later was chosen to record florid bel canto repertoire in now-classic recordings with Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, and Richard Bonynge. From 1966 to the late '70s he lived in Italy (where he sang in the world première of Castiglioni's I tre misteri in 1968), and performed in opera, recital, in concert, with orchestra, and on radio and television in Europe, Great Britain, the United States, Canada, and Africa.
In 1983, after returning to the United States from performing a series of programs on florid song for Radio Televisione Italiana in Rome, he was the victim of a street mugging in which his voice was severely injured. During a long period of recovery and rehabilitation (under the guidance of Gisela Rohmert at the Lichtenberg Institute in Germany) his voice slowly returned and, deciding to re-develop his natural baritone, he soon began to perform and eventually to specialize in the comic roles of Gilbert and Sullivan (twelve to date) and the bel canto composers, having performed Rossini's Il turco in Italia, L'italiana in Algeri, and La pietra del paragone, and Donizetti's Don Pasquale, L'elisir d'amore, Linda di Chamounix, and La fille du régiment.
He has performed in two Noël Coward cabaret revues: Music of the Master with Courtney Kenny and The World of Noël Coward with the American actress, Linda Cameron, and he often presents all-Coward recital programs. From 1984, he toured the United States annually for eight years in revues with music by Cole Porter, Jacques Brel, and Noël Coward. In 1990 made his debut as a dramatic actor in the New York production of Bill Russell's Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens. In 1992, he sang for the first time in a musical, in the world première of Move! at the Royal Theatre Carré in Amsterdam, and later that year enjoyed particular success as Albin in a revival of La Cage aux Folles.
As an opera director, his credits include Gilbert & Sullivan's Trial By Jury, The Sorcerer, and The Mikado, Offenbach's La belle Hélène, Rossini's Il turco in Italia, Pinkham's Garden Party, Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, and Puccini's Il trittico and La fanciulla del west. The Verdi and Puccini productions were chosen as "Best Opera of the Year" by the The Boston Globe and The Boston Phoenix.
As an impressario, in 1980, Conrad refounded Boston Academy of Music which, under the 23 years of his artistic directorship, became one of Boston’s major musical organizations, presenting the American premiere of Arthur Sullivan’s opera, Ivanhoe, Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda (Two-act version), and Daniel Pinkham’s The Cask of Amontillado (commissioned by Richard Conrad and Boston Academy of Music). The Academy also presented the New England premiere of Strauss’ Arabella, Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri and La pietra del paragone, and the original version of Verdi’s La forza del destino. In 2002, Conrad and artists of Boston Academy founded The Bostonian Opera and Concert Ensemble (aka Richard Conrad’s The Bostonians).
For many years he has been based in Boston, where his activities include teaching and mentoring, production, and stage direction, in addition to singing. For his 70th birthday in 2005, he presented a recital of arias and songs at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The composers included Noël Coward, Arthur Sullivan, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Daniel Pinkham, Janet Hood and Henry Bishop. In 2011 he celebrated the 50th anniversary of his debut with over 40 colleagues at MIT's Kresge Auditorium.
Richard passed away peacefully at home in Eliot, Maine on August 26, 2019. He leaves behind thousands of students, collaborators, and fans who will be forever grateful for the expertise, opportunities, and love he shared with them.