Herlea, Nicolae

Romanian baritone, b. 1927

Biographical notes:

He was born Nicolae Herle in Bucharest and studied at the Bucharest Conservatory with Aurelius Costescu-Duca and later at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome as well. He made his debut at the Bucharest Opera in 1951 as Silvio in Pagliacci. In the same year he won first prizes in singing competitions in Geneva, Prague and Brussels. Nicolae Herlea became the leading Romanian baritone of his generation. He toured widely (see the following list) and was a member of the Met from 1964 until 1967. In 1962 he was awarded the title “People’s Artist of Romania.” His repertory included Italian and Russian parts in which his beautiful voice was considered to be one of the finest after the War.



As Don Carlo in “La Forza del Destino”


“Don Carlo di Vargas was sung with rich warm suavity, implicit with feeling and acted with grace and intelligence.”

New York Herald Tribune


As Figaro


“Covent Garden has found a new and immensely Figaro in Nicolae Herlea. With a voice so rich and smooth that it made one think of brown velvet, his style - raguishly debonair - and his inexhaustible gusto...have dominated the performance. Herlea has everything that belongs to Figaro: the nimbleness, the verve, the mischievous jollity, the invulnerable self-possession, in brief, the personality of one of nature’s masters of resource.”

Daily Mail



Donizetti - Lucia di Lammermoor (Petrovici 1987/Voinea, Georgescu)

Cantus-Lin   Vox Box

Leoncavallo - I Pagliacci (Popa 1966/Florescu, Stavru)

Cantus-Lin   Vox Box

Mussorgsky - Boris Godunov (Karajan 1964 live/Ghiaurov, Usunov, Wächter, Jurinac, Stolze, Gjuselev)


Puccini - Tosca (Trailescu 1977/Zeani, Fanateanu)

Cantus-Lin   Vox Box

Rossini - Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Brediceanu 1961/Ianculescu, Teodorian)

Cantus-Lin   Vox Box

Verdi - Don Carlos/scenes (Adler 1964 live/Corelli, Rysanek)


Verdi - La Forza del Destino (Litvin 1972/Nistor-Slatinaru, Spiess)

Cantus-Lin   Vox Box

Verdi - La Forza del Destino/scenes (Savini live 1971, Kabaivanska, Bergonzi)


Verdi - Rigoletto (Bobescu 1965/Ianculescu, Buzea)

Cantus-Lin   Vox Box

Verdi - La Traviata (Bobescu 1968/Zeani, Buzea)

Cantus-Lin   Vox Box

Festliche Oper - Nicolae Herlea and Vasile Moldoveanu (Herlea: Arias by Leoncavallo, Giordano, Verdi/Moldoveanu: Arias by Cilea, Gounod, Verdi, Puccini, Godard)



As Rigoletto


“His Rigoletto last night was in the best traditions of great singing and great acting. Here was a Rigoletto of astonishing bounce in his moments of gnomish force and even more astonishing passion in anguish and ferocity.”

New York World Telegram


As Tonio


“In Pagliacci Nicolae Herlea offered the evening’s excitement with dramatically convincing interpretation of the Prologue. He is a high baritone who takes those spectacular top tones easily...an interesting personality that can convey ideas and emotions...”

The New York Post


Romania has produced a number of superb baritones: Serban Tassian, Petre Stefanescu-Goanga, David Ohanessian, Vasile Martinoiu, Dan Iordachescu, and - Nicolae Herlea. The Romanian public was able to enjoy all these singers during the 1950s and 1960s. They were closely associated with the Bukarest Opera which was nicknamed “The House of Opera and Baritones”. Nicolae Herlea is the only artist who became widely known in the Western world.

One of today’s most sought-after baritones asked me once about my favorite baritones performing after Worldwar II. I mentioned Nicolae Herlea, Theodor Uppman, Georg Ots Pavel Lisitsian and Giuseppe Taddei.

Herlea’s is a beautiful, rich and viril voice of a “velvety” color. He shows no difficulty in singing Verdi’s high tessitura and there is a glorious ringing top. Herlea sings with fine legato (breath-control!) in a wide-ranging and perfectly matched scale. Maybe there have been a few baritones who have shown a greater flair for drama (he was not a “singing actor” like Gobbi), and he was certainly not the most adventurous singer in terms of repertoire, but what lasts is that beautiful sound which I call “Herlea sound”!

 Il balen del suo sorriso (Conte di Luna in Il Trovatore / Verdi / date ?)



My warmest thanks to Robert Herle,Vladimir Ladighin and Dr P. Razvan





  online shop subito-cantabile