LONDON - British tenor Philip Langridge, who won praise for his vocal versatility and subtle characterization, has died at the age of 70, the Royal Opera House said yesterday.
The company said Langridge died Friday after a short battle with cancer.
Composer Harrison Birtwis-tle said "his death leaves a large hole in the world's music."
Langridge was born in Hawkhurst, southern England, in 1939 and studied at the Royal Academy of Music. He began his career as an orchestral violinist, but turned to singing, making his professional operatic debut in Richard Strauss's "Capriccio" at the Glyndebourne festival in 1964.
He went on to perform all over the world and had a long association with the Royal Opera. His roles there included Basilio in "The Marriage of Figaro" and Loge in Wagner's "Das Rheingold." One of his last roles was as the witch in Engelbert Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" at the Metropolitan Opera in December.
He was praised for performances in operas by Benjamin Britten, including the title role in "Peter Grimes" and Aschenbach in "Death in Venice," and originated roles in works by Birtwistle and other contemporary composers.
Among his many prizes were two Grammy awards, for recordings of "Peter Grimes" and Arnold Schoenberg's "Moses und Aron."
Elaine Padmore, director of opera at the Royal Opera House, said Langridge would be missed for "his intelligence, his humor, his wonderful voice and superb musicianship, his compelling presence on stage, the many roles he made his own."
Langridge was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994.
He is survived by his wife, Ann Murray, their son and three children from a previous marriage, including the opera director Stephen Langridge.
Funeral plans were not immediately available. - AP