Vinay, Ramón

Chilean tenor (and baritone), 1911 - 1996

Biographical notes:

Ramón Vinay was born in Chillán to a French father and a Chilean mother. He received education in France. The family moved to Mexico City where he studied singing with José Pierson. He began as a baritone, making his debut as Don Alfonso in La Favorita in an opera touring company. He was further more engaged to sing Amonasro, Radames, Ezio, Rigoletto, Scarpia, Alfredo and Turiddu. In 1944, after having continued his vocal studies with René Maison, he performed as a tenor for the first time, singing Don José, Samson, Cavaradossi and Puccini’s Des Grieux. He initiated his prime role, Otello, in 1944. The same year he sang as a tenor in Samson et Dalila, Carmen, Tosca and Manon Lescaut. The following year he made his debut as Don José at the New York City Center Opera. The role of Otello served for his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in February 1946 (where he was regularly engaged until 1961). His international career began when Arturo Toscanini invited him to sing Otello in a recording released by RCA (1946). 1951 he re-recorded Otello under Wilhelm Furtwängler (there is also a live recording under Fritz Busch).  He sang for the first time in Italy in September 1947, appearing as Otello in Florence, Genoa, Turin and Bologna. In 1947/48 at La Scala the tenor enjoyed a triumph, again as Otello in which he was equally successful at the Arena di Verona (1948) and at the Salzburg Festival (1951). Guest performances brought him to Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera, the Grand Opéra Paris and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. Besides Otello, Vinay was a widely acknowledged interpreter of Heldentenor roles, concentrating on Wagner, and he appeared in Bayreuth regularly between 1952 and 1957. His repertory included Tristan, Parsifal, Siegmund and Tannhäuser. In 1962 he returned to the baritone roles, singing Telramund (at Bayreuth), Iago, Falstaff and Scarpia. Ramón Vinay made his last performance as Iago at the Opera of Santiago de Chile in 1971, but still appeared in concert performances until 1974. Until 1972 the artist worked as stage director and was appointed  General Manager of the Opera House in Santiago de Chile for a short time. He died in Puebla, Mexico, 4 January 1996.



“He is a complete artist, magnificent and unsurpassed in roles which require power and violence. At present time no other artist comes near Vinay’s interpretation of Otello.”

Arturo Toscanini




Ramón Vinay and Gré Brouwenstijn


Recordings: (selection)

Bizet - Carmen (Stokowski/Heidt, Pease, M. Koshetz)


Saint-Saëns - Samson et Dalila (Cellini/Stevens)


Verdi - Otello (Toscanini/Nelli, Valdengo)


Verdi - Otello (Busch/Albanese, Warren)

Preiser Arkadia

Verdi - Otello (Furtwängler/Martinis, Schöffler)


Verdi - Otello (Cleva 1950/1951/excerpts/Steber, Guarrera)


Wagner - Lohengrin (Sawallisch/Thomas, Silja, Varnay, Crass)


Wagner - Parsifal (Krauss/Mödl, London, Weber, Uhde, Greindl)


Wagner - Parsifal (Knappertsbusch/Mödl, Fischer-Dieskau, Greindl)


Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen (Keilberth/Mödl, Resnik, Hotter, Windgassen, Uhde, Weber)


Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen (Krauss/Varnay, Hotter, Resnik, Greindl, Malaniuk)


Wagner - Tannhäuser (Keilberth/Brouwenstijn, Fischer-Dieskau, Greindl)


Wagner - Tristan und Isolde (Jochum/Varnay, Neidlinger, Weber, Malaniuk)


Wagner - Tristan und Isolde (Karajan/Mödl, Weber, Hotter, Malaniuk)


Recital live (Arias by Verdi, Leoncavallo, Saint-Saëns, Wagner, duets with Ljuba Welitsch)


Four Famous Met-Tenors of the Past (Peerce, Björling, Tucker)

Preiser - LV

Met - 100 Singers





Superb live recording

Tristan und Isolde

Herbert von Karajan, Bayreuth Festival, 1952

Martha Mödl and Ramón Vinay


I will never forget the first impression I had when hearing Vinay when I was a child. He is a singer full of passion and a possessor of a powerful voice, but remarkable for his skills in interpretation and characterisation.

Vinay was the most significant Otello of his days and there are many recordings. He is very dramatic and passionate under Toscanini, with Furtwängler he sings a more lyrical portrait. To me, it is the most intimate singing I ever heard by this artist. The live recording conducted by Busch demonstrates what a thrilling singing actor he was.

Vinay seems to be almost exclusively associated with his Otello nowadays, but his Wagner recordings should not to be missed! He is a superbTristan to Martha Mödl’s magnificent Isolde (he was Mödl’s favourite Tristan). Parsifal conducted by Clemens Krauss is another “desert island” recording.

 Amfortas! Die Wunde! (Title role in Parsifal / Wagner/ Bayreuth 1953 live, Clemens Krauss)


Ramón Vinay as Siegfried (!) and James Mc Cracken as a vassal in “Götterdämmerung” (Met, 1957)


My warmest thanks to Juan Dzazopulos Elgueta