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
Boito: Mefistofele / Ramey, Benacková, San Francisco Opera
Release Date: 07/31/2001   Label: Kultur Video  
Catalog: 24   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 26-50 of 136 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Rossini: Operas / Claudio Abbado [9-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001676502 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  Luigi Roni,  Stefania Malagú,  Renato Cesari,  Enzo Dara  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  Prague Philharmonic Chorus  ... 
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  • 27.
    Thomas: Hamlet / Almeida, Hampson, Anderson, Ramey
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 29087 Release Date: 04/03/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Ambroise Thomas
    Performer:  Denyce Graves,  Michel Trempont,  June Anderson,  Thomas Hampson  ... 
    Conductor:  Antonio de Almeida
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ambrosian Singers
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  • 28.
    Handel: Messiah / Davis, Battle, Quivar, Aler, Ramey
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 85189 Release Date: 01/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  John Aler,  Kathleen Battle,  Florence Quivar,  Samuel Ramey
    Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toronto Symphony Orchestra,  Toronto Mendelssohn Choir,  Elmer Iseler Singers
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  • 29.
    Bellini: Norma / Bonynge, Sutherland, Caballe, Pavarotti, Ramey
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001615902 Release Date: 11/21/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini
    Performer:  Montserrat Caballé,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Welsh National Opera Chorus,  Welsh National Opera Orchestra
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  • 30.
    Saint-saens: Samson And Dalila / Chung, Domingo, Meier, Ramey
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 0881982 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Daniel Galvez-Vallejo,  Alain Fondary,  Waltraud Meier,  Placido Domingo  ... 
    Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bastille Opera Orchestra,  Bastille Opera Chorus
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  • 31.
    Bruckner: 10 Symphonies / Barenboim, Chicago SO [10-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001606902 Release Date: 10/18/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner
    Performer:  Yvonne Minton,  Jessye Norman,  Samuel Ramey,  David Rendall  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus
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  • 32.
    Puccini: Turandot / Nelsons, Guleghina, Poplavskaya, Ramey, Metropolitan Opera [blu-ray]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001601659 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Maria Guleghina,  Samuel Ramey,  Marina Poplavskaya,  Marcello Giordani
    Conductor:  Andris Nelsons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 33.
    Puccini: Turandot / Nelsons, Guleghina, Poplavskaya, Ramey, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001573509 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Marina Poplavskaya,  Samuel Ramey,  Maria Guleghina,  Marcello Giordani
    Conductor:  Andris Nelsons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 34.
    Operatic Arias / Samuel Ramey
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 26980 Release Date: 06/21/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giacomo Meyerbeer,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey,  Gottfried Greiner,  Heinrich Weber
    Conductor:  Jacques Delacôte
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  • 35.
    Puccini: La Boheme (Highlights) / Pappano, Alagna, Vaduva, Hampson, Swenson, Ramey, Philharmonia
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 94819 Release Date: 06/21/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Thomas Hampson,  Roberto Alagna,  Leontina Vaduva,  Ruth Ann Swenson  ... 
    Conductor:  Antonio Pappano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 36.
    Gounod: Faust / Rizzi, Ramey, Mentzer, Agache, Fassbaender
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 4676915 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Cecilia Gasdia,  Jerry Hadley,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlo Rizzi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Welsh National Opera Chorus,  Welsh National Opera Orchestra
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  • 37.
    Operatic Duets For Baritone & Bass / Hampson, Ramey
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 4677172 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Domenico Cimarosa,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey,  Thomas Hampson
    Conductor:  Miguel Gómez-Martinez
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  • 38.
    Rossini: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia / Lopez-Coboz, Hagegard, Frittoli, Ramey, Malmberg, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 4677005 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  Barbara Frittoli,  Urban Malmberg,  Leonard Graus,  Hĺkan Hagegĺrd  ... 
    Conductor:  Jesús Lopez-Cobos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lausanne Chamber Orchestra,  Geneva Grand Theatre Chorus
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  • 39.
    Placido Domingo - The Opera Collection
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001515202 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 26
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Geoffrey Pogson,  Jean Lainé,  Alicia Nafé,  Richard Amner  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Ion Marin,  Georges Prętre,  Giuseppe Sinopoli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Singers,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $98.49
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  • 40.
    Rossini: Il Signor Bruschino / Marin, Battle, Ramey
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 435865 Release Date: 12/18/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  Jennifer Larmore,  Michele Pertusi,  Octavio Arévalo,  John [english horn] Brown  ... 
    Conductor:  Ion Marin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 41.
    Puccini: Tosca Highlights / Freni, Domingo, Ramey, Terfel, Sinopoli
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 437547 Release Date: 12/06/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Angelo Veccia,  Bryn Terfel,  Placido Domingo,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
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  • 42.
    Bernstein: Theatre Works
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001476602 Release Date: 10/19/2010   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein
    Performer:  Tyne Daly,  Cleo Laine,  Samuel Ramey,  Frederica Von Stade  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Leonard Bernstein,  Kent Nagano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices,  London Symphony Chorus  ... 
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  • 43.
    Puccini: La Rondine / Gheorghiu, Alagna, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 31618 Release Date: 10/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Angela Gheorghiu,  Marius Brenciu,  Samuel Ramey,  Roberto Alagna  ... 
    Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 44.
    Ponchielli: La Gioconda / Marton, Ramey, Patane
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 44556 Release Date: 10/01/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Amilcare Ponchielli
    Performer:  Gábor Kállay,  János Tóth,  Tamas Bátor,  Anne Gjevang  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Patané
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian Opera Chorus,  Hungarian State Orchestra
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  • 45.
    Offenbach: Les contes d'Hoffmann Highlights / Tate, Norman
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 438502 Release Date: 08/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach
    Performer:  Cheryl Studer,  Francisco Araiza,  Anne Sofie von Otter,  Felicity Palmer  ... 
    Conductor:  Jeffrey Tate
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden State Opera Orchestra,  Leipzig Radio Chorus
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  • 46.
    Donizetti: Lucia Di Lammermoor / Caballe, Carreras, Ramey
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 426563 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Vincente Sardinero,  Claes H. Ahnsjö,  Ann Murray,  Montserrat Caballé  ... 
    Conductor:  Jesús Lopez-Cobos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 47.
    Metropolitan Opera Gala 1991 - 25th Anniversary At Lincoln Center
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001431609 Release Date: 06/22/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Francesco Cilča,  Mitchell Leigh,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Placido Domingo,  Mirella Freni,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 48.
    Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress / Nagano, L’opera De Lyon
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 4681380 Release Date: 06/15/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Dawn Upshaw,  Steven Cole,  Anne Collins,  Jerry Hadley  ... 
    Conductor:  Kent Nagano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon Opera Orchestra,  Lyon Opera Chorus
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  • 49.
    Bach: Cantatas BWV 140, 80 / Leppard, Ameling, Ramey
    Label: Philips Baroque Classics   Catalog: 422490 Release Date: 05/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Elly Ameling,  Samuel Ramey,  Aldo Baldwin,  Linda Finnie
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 50.
    Rossini: L'italiana In Algeri / Scimone, Horne, Ramey, I Solisti Veneti
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 4683359 Release Date: 04/19/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  Nicola Zaccaria,  Ernesto Palacio,  Domenico Trimarchi,  Kathleen Battle  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Scimone
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Prague Philharmonic Chorus
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