Samuel Ramey

Biography

Born: March 28, 1942; USA  
Basses are not typically the superstars of the operatic world, but Samuel Ramey is an exception to that rule. Though his voice does not have the sonority of a Nicolai Ghiaurov or a Boris Christoff, his instrument is remarkable for its easy flexibility -- dealing effortlessly with long runs, ornaments, and leaps -- and its brilliant intensity. His stage presence (particularly when portraying "devil" figures) is vivid and lively, aided by an Read more attractive physique and a dancer-like grace. He and the various stage directors have tended to emphasize these aspects, giving rise to the comment that "Ramey's Mefistofele has everything one could desire, except possibly a shirt."

While he was attending Kansas State University, Ramey's interest in operatic music was awakened when a friend suggested that he audition for a summer program at Colorado's Central City Opera. He was accepted and got to sing in the chorus for two productions. Soon after, he began to study avidly, first at Wichita State University and later in New York with Armen Boyajian; he made his professional debut in 1973 as Zuniga in Bizet's Carmen at the New York City Opera. His Glyndebourne debut was in 1976 as Figaro in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro.

A 1980 performance of Rossini's Semiramide at Aix-en-Provence, opposite Monserrat Caballé and Marilyn Horne, made him an overnight sensation. For critics and audience alike, this new bass with the ideal power and agility was a welcome surprise. His La Scala debut came the next year as Mozart's Figaro, followed by his Covent Garden debut in 1982, in the same role. In 1984, he made his Metropolitan debut as Argante in Rinaldo. He has been a regular at the Pesaro Rossini Festival. Many Rossini bass roles had become "character parts" over the years -- performed more in parlando than actually sung (partly for comedy, partly because of the extreme difficulty of the roles) -- and Ramey determined to sing these as written. His instinctive gift for comedy without clownishness has served him well in these parts, as well as in his various diabolical roles, most of which contain a good deal of sardonic humor. He performs arias from his darker roles in his "Date with the Devil" concerts.

Later in his career, as his voice became darker and weightier, Ramey slowly began to drop the florid Rossini and Handel roles in favor of the heavier Verdi roles, such as King Philip in Don Carlo, Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra, and even Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. He has also performed twentieth century repertoire widely, especially noted for his Reverend Olin Blitch in Floyd's Susannah and Nick Shadow in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress.

Ramey is the most recorded bass in history, with dozens of recordings to his credit. These range from nearly all of his operatic roles to solo recordings of arias and song, and even some musical theater. He has appeared on the TV series Live from Lincoln Center and in TV and video recordings of many of his roles. Read less
Verdi: Attila / Muti, Ramey, Studer, Et Al
Release Date: 01/18/2005   Label: Opus Arte  
Catalog: 3010   Number of Discs: 1
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Bellini: Norma / Sutherland, Caballé, Pavarotti, Ramey
Release Date: 10/25/1990   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 414476   Number of Discs: 3
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Donizetti: Anna Bolena / Bonynge, Sutherland, Ramey, Mentzer
Release Date: 10/10/2006   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 000717402   Number of Discs: 3
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Rossini: Otello / Lopez Cobos, Carreras, Von Stade, Ramey
Release Date: 04/08/2003   Label: Philips  
Catalog: 432456   Number of Discs: 2
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Bellini: Norma / Bonynge, Sutherland, Caballe, Pavarotti, Ramey
Release Date: 11/21/2011   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 001615902   Number of Discs: 3
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Browse 151-171 of 171 Available Recordings
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  • 151.
    Rossini: Messa Di Gloria / Marriner, Jo, Murray, Ramey
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 434132 Release Date: 09/04/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  Ann Murray,  Samuel Ramey,  Francisco Araiza,  Sumi Jo  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus
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  • 152.
    The Best Of Rossini
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 67440 Release Date: 04/14/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  June Anderson,  Franck Pourcel,  Mady Mesplé,  Jane Berbié  ... 
    Conductor:  Eric Ericson,  Karl Forster,  Nicholas Cleobury,  Riccardo Muti  ... 
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  • 153.
    Kismet / 1991 Studio Cast
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 46438 Release Date: 11/15/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Forrest
    Performer:  Mandy Patinkin,  Ruth Ann Swenson,  Julia Migenes,  Jerry Hadley  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Gemignani
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 154.
    Bruckner: Symphony No 1, Te Deum / Barenboim, Norman, Ramey, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 435068 Release Date: 07/15/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner
    Performer:  Yvonne Minton,  David Rendall,  Samuel Ramey,  Jessye Norman
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Chorus,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 155.
    Verdi: Aida / Levine, Millo, Domingo, Morris, Ramey, Zajick
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 45973 Release Date: 04/19/1991   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Terry Cook,  James Morris,  Aprile Millo,  Hong Hei-Kyung  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 156.
    Boito: Mefistofele / Patané, Ramey, Domingo, Martón
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 44983 Release Date: 01/18/1991   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arrigo Boito
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey,  Sergio Tedesco,  Eva Farkas,  Tamara Takács  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Patané
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian State Orchestra,  Hungarian State Opera Chorus
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  • 157.
    Rossini: La Gazza Ladra / Gelmetti, Ricciarelli, Matteuzzi
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 45850 Release Date: 01/14/1991   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  Katia Ricciarelli,  Samuel Ramey,  Roberto Coviello,  Luciana D'Intino  ... 
    Conductor:  Gianluigi Gelmetti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Turin,  Prague Philharmonic Chorus
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  • 158.
    Bartok: Bluebeard's Castle / Fischer, Marton, Ramey
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 44523 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Eva Martón,  Samuel Ramey
    Conductor:  Adám Fischer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian State Opera Orchestra
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  • 159.
    Bellini: Norma / Sutherland, Caballé, Pavarotti, Ramey
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 414476 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini
    Performer:  Montserrat Caballé,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Samuel Ramey,  Diana Montague  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Welsh National Opera Chorus,  Welsh National Opera Orchestra
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  • 160.
    Handel: Messiah / Battle, Quivar, Aler, Ramey, Davis
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 49027 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Florence Quivar,  John Aler,  Kathleen Battle,  Samuel Ramey
    Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toronto Symphony Orchestra,  Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
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  • 161.
    Mozart: Don Giovanni - Highlights / Karajan, Ramey, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 419635 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Agnes Baltsa,  Alexander Malta,  Kathleen Battle,  Gösta Winbergh  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 162.
    Mozart: Don Giovanni / Karajan, Ramey, Battle, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 419179 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Alexander Malta,  Gösta Winbergh,  Ferruccio Furlanetto,  Kathleen Battle  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
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  • 163.
    Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro Highlights / Solti, Te Kanawa
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 417395 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Thomas Allen,  Lucia Popp,  Samuel Ramey,  Frederica Von Stade  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 164.
    Rossini: Il Turco In Italia / Chailly, Ramey, Caballé, Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 37859 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey,  Enzo Dara,  Leo Nucci,  Ernesto Palacio  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ambrosian Opera Chorus
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  • 165.
    Rossini: Il Viaggio A Reims / Abbado, Ricciarelli, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 415498 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  William Matteuzzi,  Ernesto Gavazzi,  Luigi de Corato,  Bernadette Manca di Nissa  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Prague Philharmonic Chorus
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  • 166.
    Verdi: Requiem / Muti, Studer, Pavarotti, Ramey, Zajic
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 49390 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Cheryl Studer,  Dolora Zajic,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Samuel Ramey
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
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  • 167.
    Verdi: Attila / Muti, Ramey, Studer, Shicoff, Zancanaro
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 49952 Release Date: 04/03/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Giorgio Zancanaro,  Cheryl Studer,  Neil Shicoff,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
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  • 168.
    Verdi: I Due Foscari / Gardelli, Carreras, Ricciarelli
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422426 Release Date: 09/11/1989   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  José Carreras,  Katia Ricciarelli,  Piero Cappuccilli,  Vincenzo Bello  ... 
    Conductor:  Lamberto Gardelli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Austrian Radio Chorus
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  • 169.
    Opera Arias / Samuel Ramey
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 49582 Release Date: 06/05/1989   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Meyerbeer,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey
    Conductor:  Jacques Delacôte
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 170.
    Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro / Solti, Ramey, Te Kanawa
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 410150 Release Date: 03/12/1984   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Kurt Moll,  Robert Tear,  Yvonne Kenny  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Opera Chorus
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  • 171.
    Handel: Ariodante / Leppard, Baker, Mathis, Burrowes, Ramey
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 442096 Release Date: 12/1994   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Edith Mathis,  Norma Burrowes,  James Bowman,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  London Voices
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