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Tenor Jerry Hadley dies at age 55

Opera singer Jerry Hadley died Wednesday, just over a week after he was severely injured in an apparent suicide attempt, a family spokeswoman said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Jerry Hadley, the world-class tenor known for his agile and lyric voice, died Wednesday, a week after he shot himself in an apparent suicide attempt.

The 55-year-old singer died two days after doctors at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie took him off life support, said family friend and spokeswoman Celia Novo.

Hadley, who had been battling personal problems, shot himself with an air rifle July 10 at his home in Clinton Corners, 80 miles north of New York City. State police said he was found unconscious on his bedroom floor.

The Illinois-born Hadley sang everything from Mozart to show tunes, including appearing on a recording of “Show Boat” that was a best-seller.

He built his reputation tackling demanding work, including the title role in composer John Harbison’s 1999 “The Great Gatsby” at the Metropolitan Opera. Leonard Bernstein chose Hadley to sing the title role in a 1989 production of his musical “Candide,” and he sang the lead in Paul McCartney’s “Liverpool Oratorio” in 1991.

Hadley was featured in the Leos Janacek’s opera “Jenufa,” which won a Grammy in 2004.

“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. ... We will miss him enormously.”

Hadley started his career in regional companies. He was noticed in the late 1970s by Beverly Sills, then general director of the New York City Opera, which hired him. She died earlier this month.

Hadley also 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.

Hadley in recent years had been dealing with financial problems and was being treated for depression, police said after the shooting. He had been arrested in Manhattan last year in a parked car on a charge of driving while intoxicated. His lawyer said the singer never intended to drive because he realized he was tipsy, and the case was eventually dropped.