3 June 2017 at 9.17am | 3 Comments
English conductor Jeffrey Tate (1943–2017) has died. He was a much-respected conductor at Covent Garden and around the world.
Tate trained as a medical doctor before studying on the répétiteur course at the London Opera Centre 1970–71. He began his career with the music staff at the Royal Opera House, his work including performing the continuo in Così fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro and the piano in Wozzeck.
Tate made his Royal Opera conducting debut in 1982 with La clemenza di Tito, the cast including Yvonne Kenny and Yvonne Minton. He returned in 1985 to conduct a new production of Ariadne auf Naxos, directed by Jean-Louis Martinoty and with the cast including Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman and James King.
The following year, in 1986, he was appointed Principal Conductor of The Royal Opera, a position he held until 1991. During this period he conducted new productions of Manon, directed by Rudolf Noelte and starring Julia Migenes and Neil Shicoff; of Così fan tutte, directed by Johannes Schaaf with a cast including Andreas Schmidt and Susanne Mentzer; Idomeneo, directed by Schaaf and starring Philip Langridge and Ann Murray; and of Capriccio, directed by John Cox and starring Kiri Te Kanawa.
In his time as Principal Conductor Tate conducted prestigious revivals of Lohengrin with Paul Frey, Cheryl Studer and Gabriele Schnaut, Der Rosenkavalier with Murray, Lucia Popp and Lillian Watson, Arabella with Te Kanawa and Marie McLaughlin and Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Alfredo Kraus.
Tate was Principal Guest Conductor of The Royal Opera 1991–4. During this period he conducted Le nozze di Figaro with Thomas Allen, McLaughlin and Felicity Lott; Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Jerry Hadley; Fidelio in 1992 and 1993, with casts led by Gabriela Beňačková and Josephine Barstow; and Carmen with Denyce Graves and Shicoff.
Despite suffering from a spinal deformation that obliged him to sit while conducting, Tate was a vibrant figure in classical music-making, not just at the Royal Opera House but internationally.
In addition to his posts with The Royal Opera he held positions with English Chamber Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Orchestre National de France, RAI National Orchestra, Turin, Minnesota Orchestra Summer Festival and Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, in addition to close performing relationships with numerous other orchestras and opera companies.
Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera, has paid the following tribute:
'Though I didn't know Jeffrey well, I have admired him from afar for many years. His legendary status as the head vocal coach of the Chereau/Boulez Centenary Ring at Bayreuth caught my attention, and spurred me on to be the best coach I could be.
'He was a true a musician's musician and his career was not a flash in the pan, but something built over many years. As well as his connection to the Royal Opera House, he also had a long-standing relationship with my orchestra in Rome (the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia), which connects me to him in a very special way. Addio, Maestro.'