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Sandor Konya, 78; Wagnerian Tenor at the Met 1961-74

June 07, 2002|From Associated Press

Sandor Konya, a Hungarian-born tenor with a dramatic, powerful voice who became a fixture at New York's Metropolitan Opera for 14 seasons, has died. He was 78.

Konya died May 20 at his home on the Spanish island of Ibiza, local music critic Pedro Echarte said Thursday.

Konya had a broad repertoire, including several major Verdi and Puccini roles, but he was best known as a Wagnerian tenor. He was part of the Met roster from 1961 to 1974.

Born in 1923 in Sarkad, Hungary, Konya studied in Hungary, Italy and Germany. In 1951, he made his professional debut as Turiddu in Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana" at the Bielefeld Opera.

He performed extensively in Germany before joining the roster of the Deutsche Oper, then called the Stadtische Oper, Berlin, in 1955.

In 1960, he made his American debut as Dick Johnson in Puccini's "Fanciulla del West" at the San Francisco Opera, and his debut at Milan's La Scala as Parsifal.

In 1961, he made his debut in Los Angeles in Verdi's "Aida" and Puccini's "Turandot."

His success at the Richard Wagner festival in Bayreuth, Germany, in the title role of "Lohengrin" led to an invitation to perform in the same role at the Met in 1961.

In his later years, Konya toured Europe, Japan and South America and made several recordings.

Retired Hungarian opera critic Laszlo Dalos said Konya didn't become known in his native country until after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, when "we began to take notice of his Hungarian name on the foreign opera circuits."

Konya performed for the first time in Hungary in 1964, singing at the State Opera House and at open-air festivals and returning every three or four years, Dalos said.

"We regarded him very much as a product of a German training," the Hungarian critic added.

Konya moved to Ibiza in the 1980s and started Pro Arte, a local foundation to promote the operatic arts with productions throughout the season patronized by the island's many foreign residents, said Echarte, who is vice president of the foundation.

Konya's wife died last year. He is survived by a son and a brother.

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