Richard Cassilly

Opera Singer
Born Dec 14, 1927

Richard Cassilly was an American operatic tenor who had a major international opera career between 1954 and 1990. Cassilly "was a mainstay in the heldentenor repertory in opera houses around the world for 30 years", and particularly excelled in Wagnerian roles like Tristan, Siegmund and Tannhäuser, and in dramatic parts that required both stamina and vocal weight, such as Giuseppe Verdi's "Otello" and Camille Saint-Saëns's "Samson".… Read More

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News + Updates

Browse recent news and stories about Richard Cassilly.

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    NYTimes - Jan 02, 2011
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    NYTimes - Aug 12, 2008
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    NYTimes - Feb 19, 2007
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    NYTimes - Aug 13, 1999


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Richard Cassilly.


1927 Birth Born in 1927.


1952 25 Years Old 1 More Event
After graduating with a degree in vocal performance in 1952, Cassilly moved to New York City with his first wife and their first child to pursue a performance career.
1954 27 Years Old 1 More Event
Eventually his break came in 1954 when he was hired by William Steinberg as the tenor soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Cassilly's performance in The Saint of Bleecker Street drew the attention of Joseph Rosenstock, director of the New York City Opera (NYCO), who invited him to audition for the company in the Spring of 1955.


1957 30 Years Old Cassilly made his first appearance outside of the United States in 1957 with the Canadian Opera Company as Cavaradossi in Tosca. … Read More
1958 31 Years Old 1 More Event
In February 1958 he sang Pollione in Bellini's Norma with New Orleans Opera.
1959 - 1960 2 More Events
1962 35 Years Old In 1962 he returned to the Houston Grand Opera to sing two new roles, Canio in I Pagliacci and Walther in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
1963 36 Years Old In the Summer of 1963 he sang his first Manrico in Verdi's Il trovatore with Lucine Amara as Leonora for his debut with Central City Opera. … Read More
1964 37 Years Old In 1964 he debuted with the San Francisco Opera as Max in Der Freischütz and returned to Cincinnati Opera to sing his first Baron von Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus.
1965 38 Years Old In 1965, Cassilly returned to Europe having not performed there since his 1958 debut, singing the title role in Heinrich Sutermeister's Raskolnikoff at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. … Read More
He was the HSO's leading dramatic tenor between 1966-78 where he sang a total of 55 roles, often singing as many as three or four different roles per week. … Read More


1967 40 Years Old 1 More Event
In April 1967 he made his Seattle Opera debut singing Manrico to Eileen Farrell's Leonora and Sherrill Milnes's Count DiLuna in Verdi's Il Trovatore. … Read More
1968 - 1972 3 More Events
1973 46 Years Old 1 More Event
…  Engagements with other major companies soon followed, and by 1973 Cassilly had sung leading roles with almost every major opera house in Europe, including La Scala, the Opéra National de Paris, the Vienna State Opera, and the Bavarian State Opera. … Read More
1976 49 Years Old In January 1976 he appeared for the first time at the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos as Otello.


1977 50 Years Old In 1977 he sang Tannhäuser for his debut with the Royal Danish Opera.
In 1978 Cassilly joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera after having not appeared there since his debut at the house in 1973.
1979 - 1981 3 More Events
1982 55 Years Old 1 More Event
He returned to the Palais Garnier in July 1982 to sing Cannio followed by a portrayal of the mystical shepherd in Karol Szymanowski's King Roger with Wolf Trap Opera in August.
1983 56 Years Old In September 1983 he returned to San Diego Opera to sing Peter Grimes with Patricia Craig and in October returned to the San Francisco Opera to sing Otello.
1986 59 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1986, Cassilly joined the voice faculty at Boston University where he taught until his death twelve years later in Boston on January 30, 1998. … Read More


1988 61 Years Old With the exception of the year 1988, he appeared at the Met every year through 1990. … Read More
1990 63 Years Old His last performance at the Met was on November 23, 1990 as Herod with Hildegard Behrens in the title role. … Read More
1998 71 Years Old Died in 1998.
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