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The celebrated bass-baritone Robert Mosley, who thrilled major opera house audiences internationally as Porgy in Porgy and Bess, Amonasro in Aida, the title role in Rigoletto and many other roles, died April 30 after a long illness. At his Town Hall debut, New York Times critic Richard Freed wrote: "One could have not have expected that Mr. Mosley could so effectively lighten the huge voice just heard with such effect in the Verdi aria...uncommon taste, judgment and perfect sense of style...The aural image of Ezio Pinza was strongly evoked." Despite early struggles, Mr. Mosley persevered in what seemed like an impossible dream for an Afro-American youngster from Pittsburgh - to someday sing at the Metropolitan Opera. He studied hard with voice teachers, soloed with church choirs, and eventually won the national Metropolitan auditions. Conductor Leopold Stokowski heard of this remarkable young singer and cast him in the leading role in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, a role so wide in vocal range it was usually portrayed by two different singers. His brlliant performance led to other engagements as soloist with many leading symphony orchestras, including Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the New York Philharmonic, as well as most of the opera houses in the US, including Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, Houston, New York City Opera, and finally, the MET. During a career that spanned several decades, Mr. Mosley received standing ovations night after night in major international productions and tours, portraying Porgy, Amonasro in Aida, Valentin in Faust (opposite Beverly Sills), the male lead in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, Joe singing "Old Man River" in Showboat and other major roles. He sang opposite such soprano stars as Leontyne Price, Grace Bumbry and Camilla Williams. On hearing his Porgy in Solingen, Germany a music critic from Osseravatore Roma, a leading Italian journal, said "This is the greatest Wotan voice that I ever heard." After singing 62 Rigolettos, 86 Amonasros, 30 Tonios in Pagliacci and 475 performances as Porgy - more than any other living bass baritone, Mr. Mosley finally realized his dream of starring at the Metropolitan Opera in 1984. Maestro James Levine chose him to portray Porgy at the Met in the historic first performance there of Porgy and Bess as grand opera. Over the next two seasons, Mr. Mosley would win acclaim as Porgy in 30 performances at the Met. As well as a great artist, Bob was, to all who knew and sang with him, a generous, honest, kind-hearted human being. He was a pioneer in breaking the barriers for Afro-American classical singers, and he will be remembered with gratitude by the many young artists of all races with whom he was always willing to share his knowledge, encouragement and unconditional support. He had only recently completed the first draft of his autobiography entitled, "I'm On My Way," relating his struggle to achieve his dream. After moving to Kure Beach in 1994, he attended Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmington. Local audiences were fortunate to hear him sing for fundraisers, benefits and church services. He is survived by his wife, Rita, his sister, Jeannie Craig, his sons, Herman A. Mosley and Robert W. Mosley, daughters, Robbin Nelson and Kim Caudwell, brothers-in-law, David Ely and Byron Craig, three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. A Memorial Service will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmington at 1:00 pm Saturday, May 11, 2002, by Rev. Skip Williams. The family will receive friends at the church one hour prior to the Service. In lieu of flowers, his wife has requested donations to the Robert Mosley Musician Grant c/o Judith Cantor, CPA, P.O. Box 97682, Raleigh, NC 27624. This fund will be used to provide financial aid to struggling musicians in the form of tuition scholarships as well as private study, and will be available to all musicians across the country in need.
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