Robert Tear (March 8, 1939 – March 29, 2011), opera singer, conductor, poet.

Robert Tear was born in Wales. At the age of 7, he sang with the Welsh National Opera. As a student, he sang at the King’s College, Cambridge. After graduating, he served as Peter Pears’ understudy and eventually sang most of the notable tenor roles that Benjamin Britten wrote for Pears. Tear sang in the premiere of Britten’s church parable, The Prodigal Son, in the title role. He also sang in the premiere of the completed version of Berg’s Lulu under Pierre Boulez.

Although he sang some of the traditional roles of Italian opera, Tear specialized in Germanic and British music, especially that of Britten, Michael Tippett, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Edward Elgar. His musical range was very great and included the oratorios of Bach and Handel, the song cycles of Schubert and Mahler, Verdi’s Requiem, and more modern composers, such as Stravinsky and Messiaen. He also performed and recorded Victorian parlor songs, often with his friends, baritone Benjamin Luxon and pianist André Previn.

Tear also worked some as a conductor, beginning in 1985. He retired from the concert stage in 2009, singing at the Royal Opera House in Puccini’s Turandot. He was also an accomplished teacher, serving as director of the vocal faculty at the London Royal Schools of Music and professor of opera at the Royal Academy of Music. He also held a fellowship at the King’s College where he had attended as a student. Tear made over 250 recordings and was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1984. In addition to his interest in music, he was also an excellent poet, author, and painter. He died from cancer in London at the age of 72.

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