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Samuel Ramey


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
Browse 26-50 of 105 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    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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  • 27.
    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
    On sale! $27.99
    DVD: $24.99
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  • 28.
    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
    ArkivCD $49.99
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  • 29.
    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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  • 30.
    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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  • 31.
    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
    DVD: $43.99
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  • 32.
    Heroes & Villains - Opera's Leading Men
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001433902 Release Date: 06/01/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Amilcare Ponchielli,  Georges Bizet,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Carlo Bergonzi,  Rolando Villazón,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Luciano Pavarotti  ... 
    Conductor:  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Daniele Callegari,  Robin Stapleton,  Sir Colin Davis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Santa Cecilia Academy Orchestra,  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 33.
    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
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 34.
    Favourite Rossini Arias / Ricciarelli, Horne, Baltsa, Ramey
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 48399 Release Date: 05/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey,  Katia Ricciarelli,  Lucia Valentini-Terrani,  Enzo Dara  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Gianluigi Gelmetti,  Gabriele Ferro,  Ion Marin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Turin,  Cappella Coloniensis  ... 
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  • 35.
    Haydn: Die Schopfung / Popp, Araiza, Ramey, Muti
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101479 Release Date: 01/26/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Lucia Popp,  Samuel Ramey,  Francisco Araiza,  Olaf Bär  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 36.
    The Devil's Music
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578085-86 Release Date: 09/29/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Robert Schumann,  György Ligeti,  Johann Strauss Jr.  ... 
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey,  Idil Biret,  Laurent Martin,  Ashley Wass  ... 
    Conductor:  Julius Rudel,  Johannes Wildner,  Alfred Walter,  Christian Benda  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Kosice Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $16.99
    CD: $11.99
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  • 37.
    Haydn: The Operas / Dorati (20 CD Set)
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001313202 Release Date: 09/08/2009   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Norma Burrowes,  Jessye Norman,  Claes H. Ahnsjo,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    Conductor:  Antal Doráti,  Armin Jordan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lausanne Chamber Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Chorus,  Suisse Romande Orchestra
    CD: $85.99
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  • 38.
    Mozart Gala - Famous Arias
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 458233 Release Date: 06/05/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Martti Talvela,  Teresa Berganza,  Geraint Evans,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  John Pritchard,  Bryan Balkwill,  István Kertész  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 39.
    Opera Goes To War!
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 63733 Release Date: 05/22/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Gioachino Rossini,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Nicola Zaccaria,  Angelo Mercuriali,  Franco Corelli  ... 
    Conductor:  André Cluytens,  Riccardo Muti,  Tullio Serafin,  Thomas Schippers  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra,  Paris Opera Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 40.
    A Salute To American Music
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 61509 Release Date: 04/22/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Leonard Bernstein,  Aaron Copland,  Stephen Foster  ... 
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Frederica Von Stade,  Jerry Hadley,  Tatiana Troyanos  ... 
    Conductor:  James Conlon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Collegiate Chorale,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    ArkivCD $17.99
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  • 41.
    Blitzstein: Regina / Mauceri, Ciesinski, Ramey, Réaux
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 433812 Release Date: 04/13/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Marc Blitzstein
    Performer:  Katherine Ciesinski,  Samuel Ramey,  Angelina Réaux,  Sheri Greenawald  ... 
    Conductor:  John Mauceri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Opera Orchestra,  Scottish Opera Chorus
    On sale! $33.98
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  • 42.
    Gemini - Handel: Messiah / Davis, Battle, Quivar, Aler, Ramey, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 17645 Release Date: 11/11/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  John Aler,  Florence Quivar,  Kathleen Battle,  Samuel Ramey
    Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toronto Symphony Orchestra,  Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
    CD: $12.99
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  • 43.
    Copland: Old American Songs;  Ives: Songs / Ramey, W Jones
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 433027 Release Date: 10/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Ives,  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey,  Warren Jones
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  • 44.
    Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress / Riccardo Chailly
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 411644 Release Date: 10/02/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  John Dobson,  Astrid Varnay,  Matthew Best,  Stafford Dean  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta Chorus,  London Sinfonietta
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  • 45.
    Bernstein: On The Town / Tilson Thomas, Von Stade, Hampson
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 437516 Release Date: 09/02/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein
    Performer:  Nicholas Sears,  Lindsay Benson,  Meriel Dickinson,  Cleo Laine  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 46.
    Weill: Street Scene / Mauceri, Barstow, Ramey, Reaux, Hadley
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 433371 Release Date: 06/12/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Kurt Weill
    Performer:  Jerry Hadley,  Anthony Mee,  Raphael Vigars,  Ben Holt  ... 
    Conductor:  John Mauceri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Opera Orchestra,  Scottish Opera Chorus
    On sale! $33.98
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  • 47.
    Verdi: Macbeth / Verrett, Nucci, Ramey, Chailly
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001040309 Release Date: 01/08/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Shirley Verrett,  Leo Nucci,  Samuel Ramey,  Veriano Luchetti  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  Bologna Teatro Comunale Chorus
    DVD: $43.99
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  • 48.
    Verdi: I Due Foscari / Gardelli, Carreras, Ramey
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000950702 Release Date: 08/14/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Mieczyslaw Antoniak,  Vincenzo Bello,  Franz Handlos,  Elizabeth Connell  ... 
    Conductor:  Lamberto Gardelli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Austrian Radio Chorus,  Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $25.49
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  • 49.
    Glyndebourne Diamonds - Five Great Opera Productions
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101109 Release Date: 06/26/2007   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Claudio Monteverdi,  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Reni Penkova,  Max René Cosotti,  Ugo Trama,  Bernard Dickerson  ... 
    Conductor:  John Pritchard,  Bernard Haitink,  Raymond Leppard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus,  London Philharmonic Orchestra
    DVD: $78.99
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  • 50.
    Rossini: Messa Di Gloria / Marriner, Et Al
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000868002 Release Date: 04/10/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  Sumi Jo,  Ann Murray,  Francisco Araiza,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
    CD: $23.99
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