Richard Angas's funeral

Posted on Wed, 2013-09-04 11:58 by David Pountney

It’s Richard Angas’s funeral today.

He died as perhaps he might have wished in the middle of a rehearsal, though as an exceptionally kind and loyal man, I am sure he would never have wanted anything that would cause suffering to others, particularly not Rosanne, his wife of more than 40 years. After a life-time of rich and varied theatrical characters from the avuncular to the grotesque, he leaves behind one major piece of unfinished business: he was to have been Moses in WNO’s Moses und Aron next year. I wonder how many hours of painstaking learning Richard took away with him. It would have been a huge platform for his extraordinary talent.

Richard supported that talent with some great natural assets, starting with the unmistakeable timbre of his voice and  upward to his imperious height. I am embarrassed now to remember that I put him through the torture of being on stilts in a production of Weinberg’s "The Portrait" in Leeds. The view from Richard’s normal elevation must have made the prospect of falling an excruciating one. I wonder if he experienced that in his last conscious seconds.

Then he had a deeply carved and eloquent face on which was written, as on an old and much loved boot, the remembered experiences of the many miles marched, the many stages trod, the many dressings and undressings, and above all of a real life lived, a life which rolled out of Richard like a fountain of richly brewed liquor in the magnificent cadence of his laugh. It is of course not possible to inhabit the characters which Richard so memorably played – a definitive Schigolch in WNO’s Lulu for example,  or his exceptionally touching Vlodnik in Rusalka, unless you not only know how to experience life yourself, but can tap into that knowledge and understanding in your work. The one thing that Richard’s oak-tree frame did not encompass gladly was dance, though I must admit I have spent some hilarious moments watching him try, and when those mighty limbs did move, they of course made a mighty impression.

Finally, I would suggest that Richard, in his entire attitude to his profession, in his kindness to colleagues, his patience with all those around him, (and with directors too!) exemplified an attitude to his work that represents a particularly British mixture of professionalism and modesty of which we can rightly be proud. He set a standard of artistic aspiration tempered by a balanced humanity that all can attempt to follow.   

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