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
Browse 26-50 of 98 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    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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  • 27.
    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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  • 28.
    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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    Blu-ray Video: $35.99
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  • 29.
    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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    DVD: $32.99
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  • 30.
    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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  • 31.
    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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  • 32.
    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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  • 33.
    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
    CD: $8.99
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  • 34.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 35.
    Placido Domingo - The Opera Collection [26-CD Set]
    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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  • 36.
    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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  • 37.
    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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  • 38.
    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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  • 39.
    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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    DVD: $43.99
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  • 40.
    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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  • 41.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 42.
    Verdi: Attila / Muti, Ramey, Studer, Shicoff, Zancanaro
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 09106 Release Date: 02/09/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Ernesto Gavazzi,  Cheryl Studer,  Giorgio Zancanaro,  Neil Shicoff  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
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  • 43.
    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
    DVD: $24.99
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  • 44.
    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  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 45.
    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
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    CD: $85.99
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  • 46.
    Mozart: Don Giovanni Excerpts / Muti, Shimmel, Ramey, Studer
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 54323 Release Date: 08/31/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Cheryl Studer,  Samuel Ramey,  Carol Vaness,  Frank Lopardo  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 47.
    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
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  • 48.
    Massenet: Manon / Dessay, Villazon, Ramey
    Label: Erato (Dvd)   Catalog: 5068 Release Date: 01/15/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jules Massenet
    Performer:  Rolando Villazón,  Manuel Lanza,  Natalie Dessay,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    Conductor:  Victor Pablo Pérez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatro Liceu Orchestra,  Barcelona Teatro Liceu Chorus
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  • 49.
    Verdi: Macbeth / Chailly, Verrett, Nucci, Ramey
    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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  • 50.
    The Rossini Bicentennial Birthday Gala At Avery Fisher Hall
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 54643 Release Date: 08/20/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey,  Mimi Lerner,  Kathleen Kuhlmann,  Marilyn Horne  ... 
    Conductor:  Roger Norrington
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Concert Chorale of New York
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