Glade Peterson: Mormon Singer
Glade Peterson was an internationally known professional singer, principal tenor of the Zurich Opera for twelve years, and guest artist at opera houses in Paris, Milan, Hamburg, and Vienna. He was the founder of the Utah Opera Company.
Peterson was born on December 17, 1928, in Fairview, Utah. He began studying voice in Salt Lake City after he graduated from high school. His first voice teacher was Emma Lucy Gates, who had him sing for Maurice Abravanel in 1948. His studies were interrupted in 1951 with the outbreak of the Korean War—he served as a military policeman with the US Army. After the war, he returned to his work at ZCMI and his music studies. He sang with the Utah Symphony Orchestra and with Abravanel in Kingsbury Hall. In 1958, he made his professional debut as Pinkerton in Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” with the NBC Touring Company. He debuted in Europe in 1960 in Spoleto, Italy. During his singing career in America, he starred with the San Francisco Opera and Houston Grand Opera, among others, and made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1975, singing Loge in Wagner's Rheingold.
He maintained his ties to Utah, however, and returned in 1975 and founded the Utah Opera Company. He sang in a number of tenor roles in the beginning, but then devoted himself to administrative needs. He was considered an expert at fundraising and instinctive in selecting and nurturing new talent. He also served on the national board of OPERA America and on the opera panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. He regularly rode his giant black horse bearing a Utah Opera banner in the Days of ’47 Parade and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” to open the rodeo.
Peterson and his wife, Mardean, were the parents of three children. He died on April 21, 1990, after a long battle with cancer. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.