La Scena Musicale

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

In Memoriam: Jean Cox (1922-2012)

Jean Cox (January 16 1922 - June 24 2012)

American heldentenor Jean Cox passed away at the age of 90 in Bayreuth on Sunday June 24.  A native of Alabama, Cox served in the US Air Force during WWII.  After the war, he studied singing in his native Alabama, then in Rome, Frankfurt and Munich. He made his operatic debut in 1951 in Boston as Lensky in Eugene Onegin. He made his Bayreuth debut in 1956 as the Steuermann in Der fliegende Hollander, under the direction of Wolfgang Wagner. He appeared there a total of thirteen seasons in Bayreuth as Steuermann, Erik, Lohengrin, Parsifal, Walther von Stolzing, and Siegfried, this last his signature role.  His last appearance there was as Stolzing in Die Meistersinger in 1984. He also had a long association with the Nationaltheater Mannheim, where he made his debut as Alfred in Die Fledermaus. He was named Kammersanger of the Mannheim opera house in 1977. In 1973, Cox sang the mature Siegfried opposite the Brunnhilde of Norwegian soprano Ingrid Bjoner at the Canadian Opera Company at the invitation of Hermann Geiger-Torel. His repertoire was huge, encompassing 75 roles although he was best known as in a limited number of dramatic tenor roles. Unlike some heldentenors who started out as baritones, the beautiful, bright tenor voice of Cox did not have any of the heaviness of the so-called "bari-tenors" and his high register was always free, rather reminiscent of another famous American Wagnerian, James King. Indeed they shared much the same repertoire. After his retirement, Cox and his wife, British mezzo Anna Reynolds, established a studio near Bayrueth and taught singing.  Here is a tribute to Jean Cox and his career, just posted on Youtube in memory of this great singer: