Rickards, Steven , accomplished American countertenor; b. Pottstown, Pa., Sept. 19, 1955. He was a student of Russel Oberlin at Oberlin (Ohio) Coll. (1976), of Elizabeth Mannion and Paul Matthen at Indian Univ. (B.Mus.Ed., 1979; M.M., 1984), of Sir Peter Pears at the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh (1981), at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London (diplomas in singing, 1982, and opera performance, 1983), and of Roy Delp at Fla. State Univ. in Tallahassee (1989–93). While still a student, he was chosen to create the role of Marat in the premiere of Eaton’s Danton and Robespierre in Bloomington, Ind., in 1979. He won the countertenor prize at the ’s-Hertogenbosch Competition and 2nd prize at the Royal Tunbridge Wells Competition in 1982, and then took 2nd prize at the Oratorio Soc. of N.Y. Competition in 1985. In 1985 he sang Egeo in the U.S. premiere of Handel’s Teseo in Boston and created the role of Trinculo in the premiere of Eaton’s The Tempest at the Santa Fe Opera. From 1985 to 1989 he sang with Chanticleer throughout the U.S. and Europe. He portrayed Apollo in Britten’s Death in Venice with the Opera Co. of Philadelphia in 1988. After appearing as Medarse in the U.S. premiere of Handel’s Siroe in N.Y. in 1990, he sang Alcandro in Hasse’s L’Olimpiade at the Semper Opera in Dresden in 1992. He commissioned and gave the first performance of Ladislav Kubik’s Der Weg in 1993 in Prague. In 1997 he sang St. Francis Xavier in Zipoli’s San Ignacio de Loyola in Boston. From 1997 to 1999 he toured with Hillier’s Theatre of Voices. In addition to his esteemed interpretations of Buxtehude, Bach, Handel, Purcell, and Dowland, Rickards has won distinction for his performances of scores by contemporary composers, among them Britten and Part.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire
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