Taro Ichihara

born 2 January 1950 Sakata

Taro Ichihara sings Un ballo in maschera: Non sai tu che se l'anima mia ... Ah qual soave brivido, with Leona Mitchell
Leona Mitchell produces some positively shocking sounds here that are clearly beyond what is usually considered singing.

Taro Ichihara was Japan's first claim to international operatic stardom.

He studied voice in Tokyo, Siena and Rome (Accademia di Santa Cecilia). His debut as Werther took place in 1980 with the Nikikai opera troupe at the Nissay Theater in Tokyo; subsequently, he also sang Faust and Alfredo. After concerts in Italy and Switzerland in 1981, he made his European stage debut in 1982 at the São Carlos in Lisbon, where he sang also Riccardo the following year.

His breakthrough came in 1983, when he stepped in for Luciano Pavarotti as Riccardo in Geneva. The conductor of that evening was Riccardo Chailly, and he instantly hired Ichihara for his Macbeth production at the 1984 Salzburg Festival, as Malcolm. In Macbeth, as well, was also his debut at the Paris Opéra in 1984; he sang alternatingly Macduff and Malcolm there. He was also Italienischer Sänger at the Opéra, and returned as Riccardo (1985), Don Carlo (1987) and Duca (1988).

A considerable part of his career was spent in France: Lyon, Nice, Montpellier, Orange, Bordeaux.

In 1985, he sang in the USA for the first time (Cavaradossi at the Arizona Opera); his further US career included the Metropolitan Opera (35 performances both at the Met proper and the open-air Parks Concerts from 1986 to 1994, as Italienischer Sänger, Cavaradossi, Duca, Riccardo and Edgardo), Chicago and the Costa Mesa Opera Pacific.

In 1986, he made his Italian and German debuts, in Torino and Hamburg, respectively, as Riccardo in both cases. Italy turned out to be the country where he sang probably more than anywhere else: a lot at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples and at the Regio in Torino, further in Venice, Macerata, Cagliari, at La Scala (Gabriele Adorno in 1988), in Parma, Bologna and Genova. Other than that, he was a guest at the Colón in Buenos Aires, in Santiago de Chile, Kön, Toronto, Calgary, Porto, Marrakesh and Tokyo.

He seems to have left Europe in 1997, but he sang on in Japan.

Reference 1; reference 2: Kutsch & Riemens
Picture source (© Eiji Shinohara)

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