R.I.P. Sir Edward Downes. The conductor, 85, died together with his wife Joan, 74, on Friday in an assisted-suicide clinic called Dignitas in Switzerland (where assisted suicide is legal). A statement from their children, Caractacus and Boudicca (both named for leaders of British tribes who resisted the Roman conquest), said that “they both lived life to the full and considered themselves to be extremely lucky to have lived such rewarding lives, both professionally and personally.” Downes, who conducted frequently at the Royal Opera and was music director of the Australian Opera was nearly blind and deaf; his wife had been diagnosed with cancer. His extensive recording catalogue includes arias by Pavarotti, Gedda, Freni, Crespin, Price, and Domingo; and he recorded a conversation with Maria Callas that is still available on the box set "Callas: La Divina." (The interview is available as individual paid downloads.)
Edited to add: Ethical concerns are invariably raised by a high-profile death of this nature; British police are investigating.
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