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Benjamin Luxon

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This British baritone enjoyed an international career propelled by a handsome instrument and a musical intelligence that allowed equal space for warmth of feeling. Against the attractiveness of vocal timbre, however, was the presence of a strong vibrato that frequently reached the point of intrusiveness, especially at higher volume. Nonetheless, Benjamin Luxon forged many memorable performances, a number of them preserved on disc. His Mussorgsky recital was warmly praised by the critical press and won the endorsement of native Russian-speaking listeners as well. In addition to opera and concert performances, he is appreciated for his work in restoring respect in parlor songs of the late 19th and early 20th century. As a student at London's Guildhall School of Music, Luxon studied with Walther Grünner. After finding himself a prizewinner at Munich's International Voice Competition, he soon launched upon a career. Luxon became a member of the English Opera Group in 1963, accompanying the troupe to the Soviet Union during his first season. After success in such roles as Tarquinius in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and Sid in Albert Herring, Britten called upon Luxon to sing the role of Owen Wingrave for that opera's 1971 television production premiere. Also during 1971, he appeared with the English Opera Group at the San Francisco Opera. The British company presented its production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Luxon sang the role of Demetrius. In 1972, Luxon made his Glyndebourne Festival debut singing the title role in Raymond Leppard's celebrated realization of Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse. During that same year, his Covent Garden debut took place as the Jester in Peter Maxwell Davies' Taverner. A later return as Yevgeny Onegin established Luxon as one of the leading interpreters of Tchaikovsky's anti-hero. Onegin served as Luxon's calling card for a Metropolitan Opera debut in February 1980. In 1986, Luxon made his La Scala debut, and in 1988, he sang the title role in Wozzeck for Los Angeles. For the English National Opera, the baritone sang the title role in Verdi's Falstaff in 1992. In addition to frequent appearances in Munich and with the Wiener Staatsoper, Luxon sang in Switzerland at both Geneva and Berne. During the final years of his career, Luxon suffered from the onset of deafness. ~ Erik Eriksson

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