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Ara Berberian, Metropolitan Opera bass, dies

He died of heart failure in his winter home; he was 74
/ Source: The Associated Press

Opera singer Ara Berberian, who performed at New York’s Metropolitan Opera for 20 years, has died. He was 74.

Berberian died Monday from heart failure at his winter home, his wife, Ginny, said.

The Detroit native, a bass, was known for his full-bodied warmth, lyricism and consistency he brought to more than 100 roles.

He debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 1979 as Zacharie in Meyerbeer’s “The Prophet.” His other notable roles include Osmin in Mozart’s “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” Don Basilio in Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” and Pimen in Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov.”

Berberian studied singing privately but never attended music school. He earned degrees in economics and law from the University of Michigan and practiced law for a year.

He also tried out for baseball’s minor leagues. He sang the national anthem at the 1984 World Series at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium, which he called a bigger thrill than his Met debut.

Berberian moved to New York to become a singer after a stint in the Army. He performed with the New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre.