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Richard Van Allan, at 73; operatic bass-baritone

Associated Press / December 15, 2008
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LONDON - Richard Van Allan, a British bass-baritone who was a commanding presence on the world's opera stages, has died at age 73.

Mr. Van Allan died Dec. 4 in London, according to National Opera Studio, which he directed from 1986 to 2001. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago, The Guardian newspaper reported.

His roles included Pooh-Bah in Jonathan Miller's production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" at the English National Opera.

Born Alan Jones, he was a miner's son who grew up in central England, getting his first musical experience in a church choir and in grammar school productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

Mr. Van Allan made his professional debut with Sussex Opera in England in 1964, and had his first major role at Britain's Glyndebourne Festival in 1967 in Francesco Cavalli's "L'Ormindo."

He had the lead role in "Don Giovanni" with the Sadler's Wells opera in 1969, and made his debut at London's Royal Opera in 1971 as the Mandarin in "Turandot."

The Count in "Manon" was Mr. Van Allan's debut role at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1987. "At all times, he sounded like a man accustomed to respect," the reviewer for the Associated Press commented.

He made his final appearance in 2006 at Glyndebourne, taking the speaking role of Frosch in "Die Fledermaus."

Mr. Van Allan leaves his wife, Rosemary Pickering; their daughter; and a son.

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