Jerry Hadley, a world-class tenor known for his agile and lyric voice, died Wednesday in Poughkeepsie, NY, , more than a week after an apparent suicide attempt left him with a severe brain injury. He was 55.
The singer died two days after doctors took him off life support.
Hadley shot himself with an air rifle July 10 at his home north of New York City, according to state police.
Hadley built a reputation for tackling demanding work like the title role in composer John Harbison’s “The Great Gatsby” at the Metropolitan Opera and Leonard Bernstein’s 1989 production of “Candide.”
“I particularly admired the strength and sweetness of his voice in the lyric Mozart parts and the imagination and commitment he brought to contemporary works,” James Levine, music director of the Metropolitan Opera, said in a statement.
“He was also a warm, generous colleague with a great sense of humor, who always gave his very best. I’m sure I speak for the whole company at the Met when I say we will miss him enormously.”
Hadley in recent years had been dealing with financial problems and was being treated for depression.
Hadley started his career in regional companies, singing everything from Mozart to show tunes. He was noticed in the late 1970s by the late Beverly Sills, then general director of the New York City Opera, which hired him.
He performed at Milan’s La Scala, the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the San Francisco Opera, the San Diego Opera and the festivals in Glyndebourne, England; Aix-en-Provence, France; and Salzburg, Austria.
In 1996, Hadley commissioned composer Daniel Steven Crafts to write music for poems by Carl Sandburg. The work, “The Song and The Slogan,” was made into a PBS video that won an Emmy.
Hadley was featured in the 2004 Grammy-winning recording of Leos Janacek’s opera “Jenufa.”
He also sang lead in Paul McCartney’s “Liverpool Oratorio.”
— Associated Press