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The Welsh tenor and conductor Robert Tear was born in Barry, Glamorgan, on 8 March 1939 and studied at Barry Boys' Grammar School and then at King's College Cambridge, where he was a choral scholar.
In 1966 he made his operatic debut as Peter Quint in Britten's The Turn of the Screw for the English Opera Group, and he first appeared at Covent Garden in 1970 (as Lensky in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin). He became a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1984. He made his US conducting debut in Minneapolis in 1985. From 1992-4 he was artistic director of the vocal faculty at the London Royal Schools of Music, and, later, a visiting professor of opera at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Tear made his final singing performance in 2009 as Altuom in Puccini's Turandot at Covent Garden, but continued to perform as a speaker and narrator. He died on 29 March 2011, leaving a legacy of more than 250 recordings. He specialised in music by Britten and Tippett, but was very diverse in his musical tastes.