FanFaire Viewers Remember






Thinking about Jerry, it's the voice that lingers in my mind. There was the glorious tenor voice he gave as a professional singer to his audiences. But then there was his own very personal, warm and cheery and very witty voice carrying through the halls to welcome his colleagues. On a simple level, these qualities are not so rare. They actually typify the American singer. But with Jerry, they were embedded so deep, so unmistakable, he was not only a very American singer...he was THE American singer.

I wish I had had the opportunity to get to know Jerry better. As often happens, now it's too late. Why do we so often find out about people's needs too late. Maybe he needed someone to sing the "Jaybird" song* to HIM for a change.

- Cheryl Studer (Würzburg, Bavaria - Germany)

[Ms. Studer is the celebrated American soprano who now resides in Würzburg, Germany where she is a Professor at the Hochschule für Musik. See: Cheryl Studer Society]

*The "Jaybird" refers to the song from the opera Susannah by American composer Carlisle Floyd, which Cheryl Studer recorded with Jerry Hadley. CLICK HERE to listen to the song.

Dear Jerry:

One of the best experiences I've ever had at the Met was working on GATSBY with you. I'll never forget your excitement about learning the role, although the music was so difficult and drove us both to despair at times, beautiful as it was. Also the trip I made to Santa Fe the summer before the premiere, where you were singing Idomeneo but somehow, also had the fierce discipline to put the final touches on your Gatsby in between performances.

Your big, open heart; your wide-eyed curiosity; your insatiable desire for knowledge! You were so much more than a singer: you lived life, and brought all of it, and even more, to your roles. I also loved that reckless quality of yours - you always went to the very edge, and sometimes beyond, and yes, I did feel that performing was life-or-death to you.

When I last saw you in the spring of 2003, you had so many new plans - new hopes! Loge, Captain Vere, Riccardo in BALLO, Don Carlo, Janacek's DIARY OF ONE WHO VANISHED - the list was intriguing and potentially thrilling. I left your apartment after hours and hours of discussion feeling that you would be able to make the transition, as all singers must at some point, into the second half of your life.

We will have to imagine what could have been, but Jerry: I, for one, am determined to carry on in my own humble way, what I learned from you. Every time from now on, when I coach a young singer, I will ask myself: what would Jerry say? And you will guide us, and live on and on.

Bless you Jerry - forever.

- Ken Noda (NY, NY - USA)

[A concert pianist in an earlier career, Mr. Noda accompanies today's great vocal artists on the recital stage and coaches young singers. He is Artistic Assistant to James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera where he is also active in the company's Young Artist Development Program. He is a FanFaire-featured artist.]

Jerry Hadley... what a sweetheart... a friend....

My Edgardo, Tom Rakewell, De Grieux, Nemorino and Duke. He always made me feel confident and secure... he was such a fantastic musician....

And who could forget how he told a joke!!!
And how he loved to laugh......

You will be missed my friend,
But never forgotten.

My love is with you.
Ruth Ann

- Ruth Ann Swenson (Napa, CA - USA)

[Ms. Swenson is one of today's foremost lyric sopranos.]

Jerry's singing would make you cry, and his jokes would make you laugh uncontrollably. His generous personality would embrace the world around him and always make it a better place.

As we developed together through NY City Opera and on to the Met, he not only represented the kind a career to which I aspired, but, perhaps more importantly, taught me more about being a colleague than anyone else I have encountered. He was always there for his fellow singers, one hundred percent, and in an era of competition and vain rivalry, chose the other road, making those of us in his "club" of tenors feel like brothers.

Our family will not be the same, ever again.

- Richard Leech (New York, NY - USA)

[Mr. Leech is a world-renowned American tenor and a FanFaire-featured artist. See also:]

Jerry and I sang together just a few months ago in LA DAMNATION DE FAUST and enjoyed quite a few talks about life and love, philosophy, career and the future.

I am heartbroken.

I will remember a lot about Jerry--that he was the best joke teller of just about anyone I could think of--his big smile and eagerness to please--his thoughtfulness--his love of practical jokes--his turn in GATSBY and so many other operas--a recital I saw him do with Tom Hampson where he embodied every song and brought every character he sang to life. That's what I will remember.

- Jennifer Larmore (Chicago, IL - USA)

[Ms. Larmore is one of the world's most versatile and highly acclaimed mezzo-sopranos.]

I have two very strong memories of Jerry Hadley that I will always cherish:

1. He knew I was an ardent fan of The Beatles, so when he sang the tenor soloist at the dress rehearsal of Paul McCartney's "Liverpool Oratorio" in Carnegie Hall, he arranged for me to attend the dress and at the break, he personally introduced me to Paul McCartney. He arranged for Paul to sign my first Beatles album I had bought when I was 8 years old in 1964. It was one of the highlight moments of my life to be sure.

2. We were both appearing in a production of FALSTAFF in Chicago in 1988 and I ran into him on Wacker Drive walking his baby stroller with his son Nathan in it, who was less than a year old. I asked him how it felt to be a father, and he said "Oh Kevin, it changes your whole perspective on life, and especially your career, which comes in a distant second to your kids. I love it more than anything else." Jerry was on top of the world at that moment, both with his career and his family.

I envied him that day as he walked away with the stroller, and though he had a rough time in the ensuing 19 years of his life, I will remember him as he was that day...  God bless him and may he finally find peace now. He was at heart, a very kind soul. I'll miss both his talent and his friendship.

- Kevin Langan (Shrewbury, NJ - USA )

[Mr. Langan is one of America's leading bass singers, a colleague and friend of Jerry Hadley, who sang with him numerous times in many productions of American opera companies from 1980-1999.]

I'm devastated at the loss of my dear friend and colleague Jerry Hadley.

Like so many others, I wish I had reached out to him... I knew he was having a hard time and assumed I had time to get in touch. I will always love him and remember all the great times we shared on stage and off. His great wit and sense of humor... he always had a new joke; but most importantly he was a true and caring friend, and I will always miss him and remember him with a smile and a tear.

- Dwayne Croft (New York, NY - USA )

[Mr. Croft is one of America's foremost baritones. He sings regularly at the Metropolitan Opera and is a frequent guest artist at major opera houses.]

Dear Jerry,

I had the privilege of singing with you in your final performances in Australia. Your performances of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly were a fine example of your ability to find the heart of a role and to give the character an individual life that, combined with a truly beautiful voice and an accomplished musicianship, gave to us all who were involved in this production an inspiration to aspire to. On this occasion, it was my first performances as Sharpless and I could not have found a more sympathetic colleague - so generous and kind to a fault.

On a personal level, we spent much time together sharing our mutual love of American history and I was transfixed by your prodigious knowledge of Biblical text translated from its original Aramaic.  Added to this was the great sense of humour that you shared with us all.

We were all looking forward to seeing you again and I wanted to show you so much more of my country. You have left us too soon, but you have left me an indelible memory of a great singer and a great man.

My respect and friendship is yours through all eternity. God Bless!

- John Bolton Wood (Sydney, New South Wales - AUSTRALIA)

[Mr. Wood is a principal artist with Opera Australia who had the occasion to sing in Madama Butterfly with Jerry for Opera Queensland April-May-June 2007.]

I was so saddened to hear the news about Jerry this morning - I have such fond memories of playing his daughter in "The Conquistador" at San Diego Opera.

He was a remarkable colleague. Even though he was such a well-known artist he was always concerned with the well-being of his fellow singers; I remember doing a scene with him where he was supposed to be physically threatening me. I had never done that kind of scene before, and he was incredibly focused on my safety both in rehearsal and on stage. He taught me to be in control as the "victim" in the scene. I will always remember the consideration and respect he showed me as a young singer, as well as his unshakeable dedication as an artist.

- Vivica Genaux (Italy)

[A FanFaire-featured artist
, Ms. Genaux is one of the most highly acclaimed mezzo-sopranos among today's generation of opera singers. See also:]


We all loved Jerry. I am so sad that we did not see it coming.

This profession is a lonely one and no matter how much adulation we received the night before, often it is not enough to fill the void that so much stress, travel and being away from loved ones brings.

I hope everyone is inspired to live more fully and appreciate our voices and times together. Jerry, we love you.

- Paula Rasmussen (San Francisco, CA - USA)

[Ms. Rasmussen is a lyric mezzo-soprano, one of America's fast-rising stars.]

My heart is broken. First Beverly, and now Jerry.

I had the great privilege of singing at the New York City Opera throughout Beverly's administration. One of the wonderful innovations she brought to the State Theatre (besides super titles and much laughter backstage) was a young, stupendous tenor named Jerry. We all were in awe of his enormous talent... and then we worked with him in rehearsal and realized he was a naughty, practical joker. How could you not love a guy who spent time figuring out ways to "get you"?! He knew I was a laugher, so I was fair game!

He once described Joan Sutherland as a "no nonsense person." That was Jerry: a dedicated, gifted professional with a down to earth persona. That generosity of spirit was obvious in his many operatic interpretations... a need to communicate without pushing the edit button. He was fearless in his performances... and we all admired his commitment.

I loved him and cherish the wonderful memories I have of him and my other colleagues during those halcyon days of "Beverly's City Opera." Rest in peace, dear heart, and tell our boss how we are all anticipating that grand finale together.

Your Kathy, Cunegonde, Mimi, et al

- Leigh Munro (Philadelphia, PA - USA)

[Ms. Munro is a soprano who has appeared in many leading roles with the New York City Opera.]

I have been reading so many wonderful accounts of Jerry from his friends, colleagues and fans. I guess I would say I am all of the above. I had the wonderful opportunity to know Jerry during his three years at University of Illinois. We were both working on our masters degrees in voice at the time. We were in the same classes, productions, and even soloists in the same church choir.

Over these past weeks so many memories have returned of special years.We were in so many shows together Magic Flute, Falstaff, Summer and Smoke, Rake’s Progress, and Midsummer’s Nights Dream to mention just a few. I also was at Lake George Opera Company as an apprentice the same summer as Jerry, again, so many shows and memories.

One memory is so clear and it is one that Jerry and I would still laugh over when we talked. It was during the performances of Magic Flute at Illinois. Many of you have read accounts of how this was Jerry’s first leading role. Rehearsals had been going well and we all felt ready for opening night. The opening scene started. I was performing the Third Lady. When we came out on stage to gaze fondly upon the fallen body of Tamino there was a pesky fly that was buzzing around on the stage. It was really quite large and hard to ignore. We left the stage as the Queen came on and gave the photo of her daughter to Tamino and her instructions. Then came the time for the famous tenor aria and there was Jerry sharing the stage with this huge fly. We were all huddled around the wings watching as Jerry poured his heart out in this gorgeous aria and this fly kept buzzing around his head. And then it happened. The fly flew in his mouth just as he went to sing the high note. We all gasped but Jerry just finished the note, shut his mouth, swallowed and went on. We were all collapsing in laughter backstage and amazed at how he went on as if nothing had happened, but of course it became a story that was retold and embellished throughout our time at Illinois.

I too, remember a young man so full of life and love. He was a great friend through those years of growth and discovery. It is heart-warming to hear from so many others that he did not change as his fame increased. Even though we did not contact each other often, it was a comfort to know that he was there. I would listen to his recordings and a smile would immediately come to my face.

I am so sad that I will no longer hear that wonderful laugh of his after he had told a dirty joke, or hear his imitation of one of our favorite teachers. I, like so many others, wish he would have made one call to one of us so that we could have said,"Stay with us." I listen to his CD entitled Real World and the words of the title song haunt me. "And endings come in ways that we can’t rearrange."

- Catharine (Brock) Thieme (Morgantown, WV - USA)

What a terrible loss to the world of music. Jerry had such a wonderful way of touching the audience with both his beautiful voice and his super charisma. He will be missed!

I only had the opportunity to work with Jerry once - in Pittsburgh - singing the Verdi Requiem 3 years ago. It was such a pleasure to be able to spend time with a singer that I had seen on the stage many times. He was just so human...I am so sorry he didn't reach out to his network of people who loved him so much.

God bless him and may we all remember many joyful things about him as both a person and a singer.

- Sondra Radvanovsky (Oakville, Ontario - CANADA)

[Ms. Radvanovsky is the young, American-born soprano who has been hailed as the leading Verdi interpreter of her generation.]

Each time I come into our San Diego Opera offices I see the huge production photograph of Jerry as our CONQUISTADOR prominently displayed where we have had it for many years now. Our work together on that production was unforgettable and wonderful: we agreed that had we known what we had to accomplish in that premiere we would have been too overwhelmed to begin. But begin we did, and triumph we did! Jerry cared about every detail and it was fascinating and funny and gritty and great to do the work. We were blessed with a glorious cast, a gifted and grateful composer and librettist, and we were truly a family for those rehearsal and performance weeks. And from the pit I felt and knew we were as closely allied as we had been in rehearsal---a true collaboration. As a performer, Jerry gave 110%, pulled out all the stops. He was generous and quick to acknowledge fellow collaborators, and I cannot believe he is no longer among us. I cherish his gifts and his friendship and only wish I had known how truly challenged he must have been at the end. Please be at peace, dear man. Richard (Leech) was right: our opera family will not be the same....ever again.

- Karen Keltner (San Diego, CA - USA)

[Karen Keltner is Resident Conductor of San Diego Opera where she conducts major works in the repertoire each season. She has guest-conducted in other opera houses such as NY City Opera, Washington National Opera and L'Opera National du Rhin in Strasbourg]

I met Jerry at Kennesaw State University in Georgia when he came to the school to give a recital and master class. I was a music education major and trumpet player at that time. I happened to be sitting in the hallway while waiting outside of a chorus rehearsal for my girlfriend and Jerry walked up, sat down and began talking to me as if we were old friends. He told me to keep working and he had gotten where he was by sticking with it. It inspired me.

Through our many conversations throughout the next couple of days, my musical world opened wide as Jerry told stories of experiencing Leonard Bernstein's genius as well as playing Elvis tunes with Paul McCartney on a guitar owned by the King.

That inspiration has allowed me to enter the world of opera by conducting and later becoming a founding member of OperaSouth in Atlanta. Jerry was an important part of this world and we are richer from him. As saddened as I am about his passing, I am grateful that I knew him and we are all a little better because of him. Thanks Jerry!

- Eric Smithey (Atlanta, GA - USA)

[Eric Smithey is Opera Conductor and General Director of OperaSouth in Atlanta, Georgia.]

I will always remember Jerry for his unique combination of dedication to his craft and tremendous warmth to his colleagues. He made rehearsals fun and the performances exciting. His ability to tell a joke, enjoy his friends and share his ideas about life in general made him a very special friend. We will all miss him very much.

- Ken Cox (Denver, CO - USA)

[Bass singer and FanFaire- featured artist Kenneth Cox sang in a number of productions with Jerry, including The Conquistador at San Diego Opera.]

I worked with Jerry in Firenze, Salzburg and Munich - in Barbiere, Clemenza and Puccini's Rondine. He was an extraordinary singer , with a light in his voice and , more important, a very nice person, very friendly and dear.

We had nice evenings together drinking, having fun. I have good memories of Jerry, and I'm very sad about what happened.

Ciao, Jerry!

- Mauro Utzeri (Roma, Italia)

I first met and heard Jerry in Albany, NY in 1978. We were singing the solos in a local performance of the Messiah. When he stood up to sing "Comfort ye... " I was amazed, thrilled and moved to hear such a wonderful combination of a vocal sound and a human heart.

A treasured memory....

Rest in Peace.

- Jan Opalach (New York, NY - USA)

First of all I am sorry for those who knew Jerry Hadley well for their loss. I met Jerry Hadley once at Joshua Greene's apartment. I remember I finished my coaching and Mr. Greene, said "Mr. Jerry Hadley."

Mr. Hadley was very personable when I met him. He asked me about what I was doing and I complimented him on his performance of the Great Gatsby that I had heard on the radio, which he seemed to appreciate. He was a good man in addition to being a great artist. The fact that he reached out to me was something that really touched me, because he did not have to do that. I am sure he touched many people in his life with his kindness and great artistry.

When I read about Mr. Hadley's suicide attempt and that he would not pull through I was very upset for the world of music and those who knew Mr. Hadley well. He will be greatly missed.

Jerry Hadley was a good example of a human being and very important in the field of opera.

- Nick Hay  (Princeton, NJ  - USA), opera singer

Unfortunately, I left the chorus of Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1982, just before Mr. Hadley arrived. I did follow his career rather closely because as he succeeded as an American artist, I felt that in some way we all succeeded through him. It was a great joy to listen to the opening-night broadcasts from Lyric and hear his beautiful, gifted voice. It left me with feelings of jealousy that I left the chorus a few years too early.

My favorite memory of Mr. Hadley was when he sang in Cosi Fan Tutte in a broadcast from the Met via PBS. His interpretations of Un' Aura Amorosa and Ah Lo Veggio remain with me still.

Each morning and each evening I recall a litany of relatives, friends, and people who have had a marked influence in my life and have died. Mr. Hadley will be remembered every day--in perpetua.

- M. Nunzio Cancilla  (Chicago, IL  - USA), former Chorus member, Lyric Opera of Chicago



For over 30 years I have enjoyed your laughter, your jokes, your incredible voice... and your friendship. If many of us had only known your troubled soul, maybe I could have been there....

I celebrate your life my dear friend, for the kindness and incredible joy you gave in your voice - unique and extremely full of soul and truth.

I am so sorry that I wasn't there... to help you.  But I am so gratefull that in the brief yet supreme time you reigned on this tiny earth: that I knew you, that I laughed - sometimes so hard I thought I would throw up - because you knew how to tell a joke, with that incredible funny twinkle and INCREDIBLE talent to know dialect, and you made everyone feel so good. If I could only have been able to do the same to you....

To say you will be missed is like saying that maybe I will miss the sun.

It took courage to do what you did. Yet, I wish you had had a little more voice in you, that yelled, "I will call my friends! They know me better than I know myself..."

Jerry, my sweet, friend... I love you and will miss you, remember you, talk about you, be so damn angry that you did this, and wish you were here, always.

- Pamela

- Pamela South (Portland, OR - USA)

I first met Jerry when he came to Los Angeles to ask if he could sing a duet with my father, Mario Lanza, using his recording of Golden Days. *

I was so pleased to meet Jerry and happy he wanted to do this. The recording is beautiful and my husband and I had many wonderful opportunities to meet with Jerry thereafter.

I remember Jerry for his great, great talent, his ability to put you at ease and to make you laugh so hard your sides could split. What a tremendous loss for so many around the world.

My deepest sympathy goes to his family.

- Ellisa Lanza Bregman (Beverly Hills, CA - USA)

* CLICK HERE to hear an excerpt of Jerry Hadley's Golden Days "duet with Mario Lanza." In his commentary for this album, Jerry wrote: "It seemed fitting to end our journey through the age of innocence here, with the opportunity to pay homage to Mario Lanza. His voice first introduced me to the music I have grown to hold in my heart "all else above," and his legacy is truly one of "golden days of youth and love."

Dear Jerry,

You were a great friend to me through the years, as you were with all your friends - supportive, encouraging, cheerful, always there for us.

I wish, as we all do, that you could have also shared your deep sorrow these last months. Those of us who knew you well knew the tortured side of you too, but you chose to embrace joy, good will, fun, adventure.

You seemed fearless at times. What I remember most about you, (besides some of your best jokes) is your big smile and big heart. You gave so much to your colleagues and friends in your enthusiasm and zest for life. You loved to perform but you had many other interests about which you were just as excited.

It was always fun to be with you, dear friend. I'm sorry I didn't see this coming. I cannot and will not ever believe you were in your true self at the moment you chose to end your life. God rest your wonderful soul

- Patricia Schuman (Essex, CT - USA)

God bless Jerry's family and his all his close friends at this terribly sad time. I add my prayers to those of many thousands of others for your comfort and healing. God bless Jerry.  I have faith in our loving Father in heaven, faith that Jerry is even now being held in His arms; and that we who long to know God more each day, will also be allowed to greet our Lord, through His mercy and love. We will be reunited with our loved ones; "and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes..." (Rev. 7:17)

As someone who majored in voice in the late 1970's, I began to hear a lot about Jerry Hadley, reading OPERA NEWS and such. My best friend Michelle and I had the most wonderful experience when for the first time we were able to see and hear Jerry sing at the world premiere of Paul McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio in June 1991.

We were both stunned by the beauty of the entire work -- and by ALL of the fine singing --but most especially were we mesmerized by Jerry's singing. He was the only one of the four (world-class) soloists who sang the part as if he truly meant it.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and in the world of music it's no different... Jerry's open, no-holds-barred delivery, his very vulnerability, communicated directly to his listeners, whose hearts could not fail to take it in. All of the truly great singers do this to us, but someone else here said it very well... Jerry was particularly American in this openness.

in May 1992 my friend and I were again incredibly fortunate to hear Jerry in recital at Avery Fisher Hall, with his lovely wife Cheryll Drake Hadley as his accompanist. It was a divine recital. It was pretty much perfect. And we were able to say hello to him afterwards, and he was as kind as he could possibly be. He made a few moments to talk to us, when it would have been far easier to just pass us by.

We were able to see him in two more recitals in Florida, and at one of these shows (in Boca Raton) we had had a lovely large vase of flowers delivered to his dressing room before the show. When we went to find our seats, we were amazed to see our flowers there on the stage, and so grateful. We'd never expected this! It was just such a lovely thing for him to do.

After the show we went to thank him, and he recognized us both, to our complete shock. (We knew good singers had to have good memories, but - !!??) He and Cheryl spoke to us for a few moments, and then he asked if we'd like to go out for a cup of coffee and some talk - !!?? (GULP) After all, we had driven across the state to see him, it was the least he could do, etc. We weren't about to refuse!

It was late at night, and nothing much at all was open, so he and Cheryll took us (in their rented Ford Aerostar) to the only thing which WAS open, a Dunkin' Donuts.  Jerry and his lovely wife took *us* out, fed us, and talked to us for a full 45 minutes. We were in bliss, as you can imagine.  Jerry was far more interested in talking about us than in talking about himself, and even if one can feign interest (if so, he was the best actor in the world), one cannot feign kindness and generosity of spirit. After all, there was no law book anywhere stating that "fabulous singers must take their fans out for donuts and conversation...." (One really wonderful moment was seeing him ordering the donuts and coffee in those Clark-Kent [off-stage] glasses of his, in a t-shirt and jeans. But for us, not a soul in the place knew a great singer was in their midst. It was very surreal.)

Jerry found out I had been pursuing a singing career a few years prior to this and grilled me about how it was going. I was honest and told him it wasn't really in my future anymore, but that for me it was no doubt for the best, since my ego wasn't the toughest. I knew I would not survive out there emotionally, even if I could make it vocally.

He admitted that the singing business was extremely unforgiving, and pointed out several examples of the pitfalls of certain major opera houses, none of which I'll mention here. But he encouraged me to keep my hand [voice] in it, and above all, to communicate to others, no matter the venue, and to help keep the arts alive. He was particularly worried about the future of the art song, and we spoke of that. He also encouraged my friend Michelle in her future journalistic endeavours.

At midnight we went our ways, because Jerry and his family were starting a week-long vacation, and the sitter for their boys was waiting, back at their rental condo. They drove us back to our own hotel and dropped us off (but not unceremoniously--- ever the gentleman, Jerry got out and opened the door for us) and with many good wishes for safe travelling and many thank-yous, we said goodnight.

It was a night we shall never forget. We most certainly didn't get to sleep for hours!

The last time we saw Jerry sing was at a gala (fundraiser) for the Orlando Opera Company in November 1999. He was marvelous, as always, and even though we had paid a few extra dollars to attend a meet-the-artist function after the show, we were not expecting to really be able to speak to him, not being quite as bedecked in sequins as some of the others present. But he spotted us in the crowd and brought us over to his table, and we were able once again to take part in a lot of spirited conversation (we listened, mostly). We heard some wonderful stories about him finding relatives in the Abruzzo region in Italy.

Again, here is a person who found time for his fans when it would have been far easier to look the other way. He owed us nothing, after all.

As someone who has battled clinical depression for over 15 years with the help of medications and wonderful physicians, (but please understand - it can often take *years* for the right combination of these medications to be hit upon; and some have very severe side effects which simply cannot always be foreseen ), I was horribly saddened to hear the news about Jerry, but not completely shocked, when I went on to read the part about him suffering from depression. That is to say, depression can do terrible things to people, and unless you have had it, it's hard to describe the depths to which it can send you. You feel that nothing will work out, nothing will improve, there is no hope... even though, when you are well, and not suffering from depression, you can see a light at the end of the tunnel. It's not like that when you're actually *inside* a depressive episode. There is no light. You really are not thinking at all in the ways that you'd normally think.  It is truly a frightening place to be.

I pray for peace for Jerry's soul, and even more, I pray for those who love him, those who are closest to him. I have a son of my own, 18 now, and the only reason I'm with him still is that I had found the right doctor and the right meds at the right time. I don't pretend to understand God's plan for each one of us in this world, but I hope and pray that those close to Jerry can find comfort over time.

Thanks to the Fan Faire website for allowing us to put our tributes here.

- MK (Tampa, FL -USA)

MK was blessed to sing in the Met Opera Council National auditions on March 14, 1982 in NYC and is forever grateful that the winners that day included Sylvia McNair(first place), Hei-Kyung Hong, Nancy Gustafson, Lucille Beer, and several other incredibly fine vocalists. Her two most wonderful singing experiences were as the soprano soloist alongside Richard Leech in an April 1982 VERDI REQUIEM in Tampa with [what is now called] the Florida Orchestra, and singing 'Mary Dee' in the Southeastern US premiere of Paul McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio (1994). She is a happily married mom, and dear Michelle is still her best friend.

I was an incoming freshman at the University of Illinois in 1976 and I auditioned to be in the chorus of the opera department. The opera was Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore and the first day of rehearsal I became mesmerized by our lead tenor. He sang with such soul and such originality. He was also gorgeous to look at.

Well, that tenor was Jerry Hadley. I fell madly in love with him because how could you not. At a university whose opera department fostered diva-like behavior, Jerry was the most down to earth and caring person. It was no surprise to any of us when he became a star a few years later.

In the mid 1980s I heard Jerry at the Chicago Lyric in Cosi... his rendition of "Un'Aura Amorosa" was beauty personified. I can still close my eyes after all these years and remember how he sang that aria. His sound fell on you like rain drops and his singing uplifted you and made you believe that there was something worthwhile in the world.

- Pirooz Aghssa   (Ann Arbor, MI -USA)

I write this with true sorrow in my heart for Jerry and his family. I attended Bradley University with Jerry and remember him with great affection!

I too majored in music at Bradley and was a couple of years younger than Jerry. He was an amazingly talented individual but always kind and fun loving back in those days.

I have followed Jerry's career throughout the years and have always felt thankful that I was able to get to know the wonderful person behind all of that talent.

God teases us with such a beautiful, talented person when he blesses us with them and then pulls them away at such a young age.

My heart and prayers are with his family and all that were close to him.

- Morgan (Budde) Pillischafske  
(Mount Prospect, IL -USA)

Morgan is a 52 year old proud mother of one very musically talented 14 year old. She graduated from Bradley University with a Bachelor of Science in Music but has chosen to devote her life to working with individuals with developmental disabilities.

I have just found this marvelous site, FanFaire! Obviously I am not that computer savvy as yet even though I do an internet show.

Jerry Hadley...what a perfectly neat guy. Jerry and his wife Cheryll came to the radio station in Greenwich, CT to do the show I called Mario Lanza and Friends with me. We did three hours on the air as co-hosts, playing Jerry and Mario's music.

A year or so later Jerry joined me from the Applausi Restaurant in Old Greenwich. We had an audience and Jerry was in his best mode...funny, pleasant, informative. A friend of mine that Sunday had a birthday and Jerry got us all singing Happy Birthday to her on the air!

I echo the words of everyone on this site who wrote so movingly about this Tenor, this Man, this Jerry Hadley. A gorgeous voice with intelligence and wit to match. I am honored to have had Jerry on my program and to have heard him in person. I am honored to have had his wonderful colleague, Richard Leech and Mario's daughter Elissa Lanza Bregman on the show.

May God watch over Jerry eternally.

- Jim Thompson  (Stratford, CT -USA)

I have been in broadcasting most of my life and a singer all my life. Although in News, for over ten years I have produced a show called Mario Lanza and Friends. It is now on the internet at:

I was shocked to learn of the passing of tenor Jerry Hadley. I certainly did not know him well, but I did know him, and he was always a jovial, cheerful person, and he will always remain so in my mind and in my heart.

I recall seeing Jerry, perhaps for the first time, as Werther at NYCO in about 1985. He was magnificent. Perhaps the finest Werther I have ever seen in more than 40 years of going to the opera.

I saw him and enoyed his singing and his conviction on stage many times over the years, including a great Boheme in London in 1991.

He will be sorely missed, and he left us far too soon. We are diminished by his passing.

- Ed Rosen  (New York, NY -USA)

He was one of my favorite singers. Because his acting was true, his characters compelling. His voice really did have a particularly American flavor to it that I think was wonderful for modern opera in the English language. His was the only Rake I ever heard who actually sounded terrified and desperate and brave in the Graveyard Scene, and I fell in love with him there. Some of his best roles were the ones that could showcase his sense of wonder and his vivaciousness. I think that he had a great deal of commitment to his characters.

You inhabit these personas, but it doesn't free you from the limitations and the tyrannies of your own biology.

Tom Rakewell, Candide, Gatsby, Sam Polk...he brought them to life, and made them vivid and vibrant, and I, for one, will miss him. My regret is that I never tried to find a way to express my appreciation until now, thinking that one voice could not possibly be heard. But that's exactly the lesson to learn from him, to take that plunge, to communicate the things you believe and feel, and to do so with no reservations, trusting that it's worth it. And it is.

- Carrie (Boston, MA - USA)

I would like Jerry Hadley to be remembered by the world for his poignant and deeply-moving performance as Tom Rakewell in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress at the Metropolitan Opera, opposite Dawn Upshaw's Tess Truelove.

Tom Rakewell, the dissolute rake, becomes Tom O'Bedlam when he loses his money and with it, his mind.

I remember the curtain rising in the last act, Tom's arms tied behind him in a straightjacket. Tess --faithful to the end-- distraught at her once peerless lover's decline into madness finally leaves the asylum, unable to bear more.

It was heart-rending to hear sung the notes marking Tom's decline --and I, who had never much appreciated Jerry Hadley-- realized the depths of his artistry as I had never before.

One other note: I also remember running up to visit a friend, one of Jerry's accompanists, who was working with Jerry on some new songs. As I got out of the elevator a youthful, robust, broadly smiling, bearded man in a watch cap and a peacoat buttoned up against the winter cold, passed me going in. He was vibrant and energetic --it was not too long ago. May he now enjoy the peace that eluded him so lately.

- Marta Varela   (New York, NY -USA)


I had the great good fortune of meeting Mr. Hadley when he came to Hawaii several years ago to sing in a fund raising concert for the Honolulu symphony.

Pure chance put us in the same restaurant after the show.

Mr. Hadley insured that he said hi to everyone.

Mr. Hadley and I chatted and when he learned that I was in the military he had many many questions.

We moved to an after hours club to discuss our views ont the military and work affairs. I had his company for about 7 hours. He was wonderful company, inquisitive and lively. I left our encounter exhausted. We also swapped email addresses. On the day that I retired from the military he very kindly sent a lovely email to me.

I attended a master class of his the next day. He was very encouraging to all the young singers. He had a very soft approach to the coaching sessions but his expertise was overwhelming.

He seemed like a real gentlemen and a warm wonderful wit.  I admired him as an artist and was so very sorry to hear of his passing.

My condolences to his family.

- Michael J. Galizia  (Columbia, MD -USA)

I am saddened by the loss of tenor Jerry Hadley. While I am not a singer by profession, I am a patron of the arts. My very first live opera performance was Mozart's "The Magic Flute" here in Chicago at Lyric Opera. I remember Jerry Haldey playing Pamino opposite Karita Mattila's Pamina and Sumi Jo was the Queen of the Night. He closed the 1991 season with this opera. More recently, Jerery sang at Lyric opera in Malcom's "A Wedding" opposite soprano Catherine Malfinato. What a joy it was to see him on stage again and hear his tenor.

So I am left with the recordings in my collective of Jerry's voice: Candide, Werther, Faust, The Age of Bel canto recital, The duet recital with thomas Hampson, The Broadway CD, and La Boheme. He wil be greatly missed on the operatic and recital stage and will always be one of my favorite tenors.

My deepest sympathy to his family, fans, and his operatic colleagues around the world.

- Fine Arts Patron  (Chicago, IL -USA)

Ian Campbell of San Diego Opera this week recalled Jerry as a friend and a man of charm and grace as well as a singer. How very true.

In 1999 my wife and I had a young singer, Benoît Gendron, as a lodger while he was covering Rodolfo, the tenor lead in La Bohème, with Dallas Opera.  Jerry Hadley had reason to hear our guest's performance in either a rehearsal or in full on set performance by a special "student" cast for local school students. Hadley was one of three star quality tenors who came to replace Marcello Giordani's withdrawal as Rodolfo in the main company performances.

Reminding Gendron that the largess of star singers like Beverly Sills had helped to launch him on his own career, he offered him free master classes since they both lived in the NYC area and Hadley wanted to pass on the tradition of helping another budding singer. Gendron, who is now by no means obscure, had paralleled Hadley's experience of setting out to study conducting and changing to singing at the urging of classmates who heard him sing.

Although Mr. Hadley was in our home only briefly to visit Benoît, we felt his exuberance and truly warm humanity there as well as on other occasions in the company of others associated with the local company. In fact, Jerry came to the house to join a motorcade of rental cars following us to the car rental agency and on the the airport, where we saw him treating several of the company members as family rather than with the "little people" toleration we have sometimes witnessed from the more renowned performers.

My wife Anna still brags that she was hugged and kissed by Jerry Hadley. Our hugs, condolences, and prayers go to Jerry's family and his obviously large extended family in the arts community. We intend to remember him as we knew him, a man of charm and grace, a teacher of others in the sharing of his art--who was also a singer.

- Joe Burba  (Chattanooga, TN -USA)

[ Joe and Anna Burba, now living in the Chattanooga area, over a period of several years with the Guild of the Dallas Opera's Adopt an Artist program, opened their home's guest rooms to more than a dozen singers, stage managers, actors, and even concert pianists hired to rehearse the operas.

My mother laughed easily and often, but I remember no laughter as hearty and sustained as when she was reading Jerry Hadley's account of his debut at City Opera. Having laughed my way through the article in "Opera News", I passed the magazine to her. Her laughter started almost immediately and grew as she read. Having finished the article, she continued laughing -- literally for minutes. Naturally I joined in. As one of us calmed down a bit, the other would make a comment, such as "The plume was on fire!" and we'd be off again. Re-reading his account just now had me laughing with tears of laughter and of deep sadness.

- Ann S. Zartler (Jamestown RI - USA)

My parents first took me to Chicago's Lyric Opera when I was 11. From 1987 to 2003, I joined them at the Spoleto Festival USA where an opera was always part of our schedule. In the five decades since I first sat with them at the Lyric, I think of my parents whenever I am attending a performance, or listening to broadcast and recordings.

I have always been in love with Jerry Hadley. The voice, the look, etc! I had the pleasure of meeting him briefly after a performance in Boone, NC at Appalachian University. After the performance I ran after him dragging my poor husband with me and asked for an autograph and then (yes) a picture. He was so gracious and accomodating. As I stood beside my hero with my arm around him I looked up and said Wow, you smell good, what do you have on? He said "Sweat!" That endeared me even more to his "normalcy" and sense of humor. I cried on the way home that night, because I knew I had experienced one of the most memorable times in my life!

- Julie Wilson  
(Kernersville, NC - USA)

Like countless other admirers of Mr. Hadley, I have been following news of his condition since the dreadful event on July 10th, when he was found unconscious.

I don't know why I spent so much time in between that day and the subsequent news of his death, listening to his recordings over and over - perhaps because I feared the worst, that his magnificent talent would not be heard again by any other means.

I am sure we all wonder if something could not have been done - said - to prevent this dreadful tragedy. The world had become a dark place for Jerry, and I hope that he is in a better place now - but he certainly leaves the world a darker place for the rest of us by leaving it.

I will light a candle for him this Sunday, and wish him peace. My heart is broken for the family and friends he leaves behind.

- Janice Galassi  (Bethlehem, PA -USA)


I have been an opera fan since age 20. Though I missed most of Jerry Hadley's career, I fondly remember the New Year's 2000 Met broadcast of THE GREAT GATSBY, starring Mr. Hadley.

Though I'm not familiar with the body of Jerry Hadley's work in opera, I don't think any male classical singer sang songs from Broadway musicals better than he did; he and Dawn Upshaw were two of a kind.

I also agree totally with what he said in interviews (published in OPERA NEWS) about the pretentiousness of too many modern opera productions and about the lack of civility in society today. And I was pleased to hear him speak highly of Richard Bonynge and Joan Sutherland, two of my favorite people in opera.

I'm going to make it a point to seek out Jerry's opera recordings. He must have been very depressed to have taken his own life. But it's not my job to judge him, and I hope he is now at peace, free from pain of all kinds. Jerry, God bless you. Sleep well.

- Nicole De Sapio (Alexandria, VA -USA)

Sono molto triste, perche era un ottimo artista e una buona persona che non meritava lasciarci così. Io ho avuto la fortuna di lavorare con lui a Firenze anni fa e conservo un'ottimo ricordo.

Riposa in pace, Jerry!

- Mario Pontiggia   (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas - SPAIN)

I heard Jerry Hadley a few times at the Met.

All of us are holding him with love in our hearts at this moment even if we didn't know him or even if we had never heard him!

His singing will live.

"There is no goodbye, only love." (Billy at the end of "The Perfect Storm")

- C. McKinnon  (New York, NY - USA)

To The Family of Jerry Hadley - my heartfelt condolences. I deeply mourn the passing of this wonderful artist and good man.

Jerry, I am so sorry that us fans had somehow let you down. We will miss you more than you can ever know.

God's Blessings!

- Bill  M.  (Yonkers, NY - USA), a young lifelong opera fan.

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another." - John Donne Meditation 17

Rest in peace, Jerry.  I loved your voice.

- Jane Lowell.  (Savannah, GA - USA)

I was saddend to hear of Jerry's passing. I said a prayer for him. 

He had a beautiful voice and wasn't afraid to take on many roles including The Rake's Progress. He was really diverse in his singing career. I can see him and dear Beverly singing a duet.  I'm an opera fan big time, having seen many different ones. Also visited Bayreuth Germany. I lived in Germany for 8 years where my children were born. I want to extend my sympathy to his family and friends. He will be missed.


- Judith Holliday  (Salem, OR - USA)

I will never forget Jerry. I first met Jerry in my early 20s attending a performance at the Met. He welcomed me backstage and sang me Happy Birthday. He was warm and loving. It was very contagious! In later years, as my mother was dying and confined to a wheelchair, he showed her much tenderness and respect. I willl never forget him!

- Kathy Verdi (New York, NY- USA)

I met Jerry at the Mario Lanza Ball in 1995 where he sang a few of Mario's songs. We later had a chance to talk to each other and I found him to be very astute and open-minded when discussing Mario Lanza whom he liked very much. Sad to see such a great talent cut short.


- Bob Dolfi (San Pedro, CA - USA) A Mario Lanza fan and friend to the Lanza Family. I work closely with Damon Lanza, the son of Mario Lanza in promoting Mario. You may reach us at

Years ago, my mom and I met Jerry Hadley in San Francisco. He seemed so upbeat and positive and when I told him my birthday was June 14th, he said, "We Gemini's have to stick together!"

I can't believe such an upbeat person committed suicide.

- Deb (San Francisco, CA- USA)

We are saddened with the news regarding Jerry Hadley. I moved to the Manlius, IL area about 6 years ago and had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hadley when he came to do a concert/fundraiser for Bureau Valley High School in Manlius. He was happy to come back and share his talent with us. He will be greatly missed!

- Lori
(Wyanet, IL - USA), involved parent at Bureau Valley High School

Hello. I am sorry, I was not aware of Mr. Hadley, but I feel very bad that he felt he needed to end his life. Whenever I hear of someone ending their life, I say a prayer, and feel like I carry them in my heart. I will put Jerry's name in our Mass intention book tomorrow, then he will be included in Mass every day all year. Please tell his parents or family that people care and will pray.

- Dolores   (Waldport, OR -USA)

The Voice in the theatre was wonderful, rich and he used it with such allure, not for him the strained peaked notes of the larger voices, but a true French voice, unusual to find outside Europe) that wrapped around the notes, he gave us a fine legato, and a personality on stage that one could relate.

What a loss!

- Glenn Weston  (Sydney, Australia)

What a voice!

What a tragedy!

A loss to Bel Canto of great proportion.

May the memory of his voice always shimmer in the souls of Metropolitan wannabes.

If you did not know who he was, just forget it. Only his fans will treasure this role model for young aspiring singers and hope that others will take his place.

God Bless.

- Greg Smith (Laurel, MS - USA)


Though I never had the good fortune to hear Jerry Hadley in person, I will always cherish his uniquely beautiful and communicative singing, which makes you feel instantly that he's singing to YOU personally, and that he means every word and every note. I first heard him in the EMI recording of Show Boat, and knew at once that he was something special. But only after his tragic death, when I read all the tributes, did I realise what a unique and lovable person once lived behind that voice. The person is gone now but the voice will always live on, as long as there is music to be heard. Whatever troubles led you to take your own life, rest in peace Mr Hadley. You have given the world much more than it has given you.

- Tony Hung (Hongkong - CHINA)

I have always been a great fan of Jerry Hadley and have all his recordings. I never had the priviledge of seeing him live on stage or meeting him in person, but I am so grateful to be able to listen to his CD's and in that way have the memory of this truly remarkable singer with me forever. He will always be in my prayers. Rest in peace Jerry.

- Virginia Abrahamse (Cape Town, Western Cape - SOUTH AFRICA)

I have never seen Jerry Hadley in concert, much to my regret, and I only became aware of him about two years ago when I heard him sing Che gelida manina from La Boheme on a CD I had purchased. I was instantly impressed and set out to find as many of his recordings as I could find.

I am saddened by his death, and consider the world to be a poorer place without his talent and the contribution he made to music. May he rest in peace.

- PL (Canberra, ACT - AUSTRALIA)

I just bought a copy of Hadley and Hampson to replace a lost copy. This cd has always been a favorite. I did a search on Jerry Hadley and sadly discovered his recent passing. I ALWAYS enjoyed his performances at Lyric Opera in Chicago and was always delighted to see his name in the program. I love his voice and his big smile. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. Jerry will be greatly missed.

- Sally (Chicago, IL - USA)

I didn't see Jerry in person but I saw him on television many times and think he was great !!!! Leon Withers-Richardson, Texas

- Leon Withers (Richardson, Texas - USA)

It is now 2 days before Thanksgiving 2007 and I just found out that Jerry had died. How saddened I am. He along with Thomas Hampson was one of my favorite singers. It is troubling to me to think that he would take his own life.

- Neal Martinez (Beaumont, Texas - USA)


I had the privilege of Jerry's company for several weeks during April/ May of this year while he rehearsed and performed the role of "Pinkerton" in our production of Madama Butterfly.

I had contracted him early in 2006 and we conversed by email until his arrival, unlike any other artist I had contracted before. He wrote to me as if we had been friends for years. His honesty, warmth and humour was like a breath of fresh air for an opera administrator.

I had been a fan of Jerry's for many years and surprised him when he visited my home that I owned nearly all his recordings. He then proceeded to give me those I didn't have. He would sit in my office and talk almost every day.  His knowledge on a wide range of subjects was astounding and his passion for his interests and his art amazing.

Although he spoke of many of the problems he was going through, his attitude was that he would rise above it all eventually, and he had such hopes for the future. I will miss the friendship he so willingly extended, the endless jokes and stories, and that special spark he ignited whenever he came into the room or was near you.

He was a special human being and one I feel honoured to have been able to spend some time with, all be it too brief.

- Brad Jarrett (Brisbane, Queensland - Australia), Artistic Administrator for Opera Queensland>

I first heard Jerry Hadley in St. Louis, 1982. He sang Ferrando in Jonathan Miller's production of Cosi fan tutte in company of Thomas Hampson, Ashley Putnam, Patricia McCaffery and Ruth Golden. Calvin Simmons conducted and was seen draping his lanky body over lobby furniture in our hotel.

I didn't meet Jerry until I interviewed him for Opera News. He was preparing the title role in "The Conquistador" for its world premiere in San Diego in 1997. He greeted "the lady from San Diego" with chocolate chip cookies and fresh-brewed coffee and we spent a delightful three hours discussing everything from "Conquistador" to critics to his children, whom he adored.

When I asked what he would have them know about him, he choked up and said, "First, that I love them," and then, "that I always tried to do as an artist and a person what is right and truthful."

Thanks for your generosity, your heart and your humanity, Jerry.

- Charlene Baldridge (San Diego, CA -USA)

Freelance arts writer and critic, member of San Diego Theatre Critics Circle

I first heard Jerry Hadley in Washington, DC, as both an unforgettable Tom Rakewell and Rodolfo. Some years later, he made time stand still for me at a Met Eugene Onegin with his magical rendition of Lensky's aria.

I also met Jerry Hadley when he graciously agreed to do an interview for my opera radio show. He bounded into the room with a broad-brimmed hat and an even broader smile. He was incredibly generous with his time, and spoke with an infectious enthusiasm and keen insight on a number of topics. It was one of the most enjoyable interviews I've ever done.

I loved Jerry Hadley's singing for his beautiful voice, his compelling stage presence, and the total committment he brought to his art. I feel privileged that I was able to hear and meet him.

- Ken Meltzer  (Atlanta, GA -USA)

Program Annotator, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra / Host, "World Class," WQED-FM, Pittsburgh

Will always remember Jerry fondly and with great admiration. We would see each other often either before or after his lesson with LoMonico, as one of my singers was studying with LoMonico at the recommendation of Jerry.

I was also at his MET audition by coincidence as another of my singers, Ellen Shade was also singing for Levine at the same time. He equated himself very well and went on to sing there many times.

He will be missed by all of us who knew him. He was a gentleman and scholar and a damn good singer too.

- Jerry Bollfrass (Phoenix, AZ - USA) [Ex-manager at Columbia Artists Management, Inc. (CAMI). At the time, he would meet Jerry Hadley either at the MET or at the studio of LoMonico]








background music

welcomes submissions of

If you have special memories of
or if you simply wish to give tribute


selected excerpts from his vast repertoire of arias and songs
"Au fond du temple saint"
(with Thomas Hampson)
duet from The Pearl Fishers
by Georges Bizet
(from the CD "Famous Opera Duets")
"Ach, so fromm, ach, so traut"
from Martha
by Friedrich von Flotow

(from the CD "The American Opera Singer")
"Che gelida manina"
- from La Bohème
by Giacomo Puccini
(from the CD "Mad About Tenors"
"Já vím, zes Stevu Lúbila"
- from Jenufa
by Leos Janacek
"All right, I'll sing y' 'Jaybird'"
(with Cheryl Studer)

"It's about the way people is made"

from Susannah
by Carlisle Floyd
"Oh - There's a star"
from Desire under the Elms
by Edward Thomas
"Then shall the righteous shine forth"
from Elijah
by Felix Mendelssohn
"I know that to be thankful..."
from Liverpool Oratorio
by Paul McCartney
"It must be so" and "Make our garden grow"
- from Candide
by Leonard Bernstein
"Komm in den kleinen Pavilion"
- from Die lustige Witwe
by Franz Lehar
(from the CD "The World Is Beautiful")
"My heart belongs to you"
- from The Land of Smiles
by Franz Lehar
"Täubchen, das entflattert ist"
- from Die Fledermaus
by Johann Strauss
"Drink, drink, drink"
(from the CD
opera's Greatest Drinking Songs)
"Golden Days"

(from the CD
Golden Days)
- from Student Prince
by Sigmund Romberg
"Make believe "
- from Showboat
by Jerome Kern
"Stranger in Paradise"
- from Kismet
by Robert Wright
"How can you tell an American?"
(with Thomas Hampson)

- from Knickerbocker Holiday
by Kurt Weill
(from the CD Kurt Weill on Broadway)
"All I ask of you"
(with Marilyn Horne)
- from Phantom of the Opera
by Andrew Lloyd-Weber
(from the CD Marilyn Horne:
The Men in My Life

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Background music clip is from "It must be so" (Candide's Meditation) and "Make our garden grow" (excerpted from the Finale) - sung by Jerry Hadley, Tracks 7 and 16 of Leonard Bernstein's Candide (DGG -1991)




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