George Darden

Darden, George

The long career of pianist George Darden (b. April 25, 1943; d. April 1, 2014) has taken him throughout America, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia: New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Paris, Strasbourg, Rome, Lugano, Stuttgart, Vienna, Tel Aviv, Moscow, Hong Kong, Majorca and Menorca. Some of the notable places have been at the Musikverein-Brahmssaal in Vienna, Metropolitan Opera, George London Foundation, New York’s 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully Hall, New York Philharmonic for Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Sir Colin Davis conducting, Puccini Festival in Valencia, Spain, and in Moscow with performances at the State Museum-Homes of Sviatoslav Richter, Alexander Pushkin, Feodor Chaliapin, and Mikhail Glinka. His debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 1985 was with Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and he remained with the company for twenty-one years until his retirement in 2006. In the opera house he has worked with renown singers Elisabeth Söderström, Marilyn Horne, Kathleen Battle, Kiri Te Kanawa, Mirella Freni, Thomas Hampson and with conductors James Levine, Sir Charles Mackerras, Charles Dutoit, Christian Badea, James Conlon, Julius Rudel, Antal Dorati, Roberto Abbado, and Valery Gergiev.

In June/July 2009 he returned to Austria to prepare a production of Porgy and Bess at the personal invitation of Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Styriarte Festival in Graz on the occasion of Harnoncourt’s 80th birthday. In addition to preparing that production, he performed with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and has done 165 performances of Porgy and Bess. He recently returned from his seventh trip to Moscow at the invitation of the Bolshoi Opera where he was the first pianist/coach to work with the newly-established Young Artist Program at the Bolshoi. In addition to working with young artists, he returns each year to the San Francisco Opera/Merola Program to work with the pianists and singers in the program.

Mr. Darden announced his retirement from performing in 2010 and only a few more recital with tenor, Vinson Cole, remain: Asheville, Boston, Kansas City, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. He has been the tenor’s pianist/coach for almost thirty years. In addition to his on-going work with the Bolshoi and Merola programs, he has also been active at the Metropolitan Opera with the company’s National Council Auditions, both as a judge in the District and Regional Auditions and with the finalists in preparation for their final concert in the opera house.

He has appeared in recital and galas with artists Placido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Dolora Zajick, Vinson Cole, Aprile Millo, Roberta Alexander, Carol Vaness, Samuel Ramey, Wilhelmenia Fernandez, Eric Halfvarson, Evelyn Lear, Thomas Stewart, Hermann Prey, Elena Nikolaidi, Sir Thomas Allen, and with the Three Tenors at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. His recordings can be found on RCA Italiana (Clementi Rarities with pianist, Pietro Spada), Tioch Digital, Milan SPI, KEM-DISC (Spirituals and Gershwin Songs, both with soprano, Wilhelmenia Fernandez), and Connoisseur Society (In the French Style with Metropolitan Opera Orchestra former principal flutist, Trudy Kane).

Five operas in which Mr. Darden was credited with musical preparation have been televised over PBS’ Emmy Award-winning “The Metropolitan Opera Presents” Series: Verdi’s Il trovatore (Pavarotti, Marton, Milnes, Zajick), Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (Battle, Nucci, Blake, Dara) and Semiramide (Horne, Anderson, Ramey), Strauss’ Arabella (Felming, Brendel, Bonney, Dessay), Giordano’s Fedora (Freni, Domingo, Croft), and the James Levin 25th Anniversary Gala.

Mr. Darden studied at Indiana University with Béla Boszorményi-Nagy and at Florida State University with noted American composer and pianist, Carlisle Floyd.

Albums Featuring this Artist