Arthur Woodley, a noted opera singer and longtime Montclair resident, died on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, after a brief battle with cancer. He was 71.
Mr. Woodley was born in New York City in 1949 to Elfreda Johannes and Charles Woodley. He spent his early childhood in his beloved St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, where he lived with his maternal grandparents, Prince and Augusta Johannes.
He always had a passion for music. His commitment to the study of classical music and opera began in 1970, when he received a scholarship to study abroad at the Giovanni Battista Martini Conservatory in Bologna, Italy. After three years in Italy, he returned to New York and completed his studies at Mannes School of Music.
In 1979, Mr. Woodley made his operatic debut at New York City Opera in Kurt Weill’s “Street Scene,” followed by the title role in Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” at Carnegie Hall in 1980.
In the ensuing years he built a successful career as a bass, performing at some of the world’s most important opera companies, including the San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera de Montreal, Opera Philadelphia, Dallas Opera, Cincinnati Opera and Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
Mr. Woodley’s career culminated with his debut at the Metropolitan Opera during the 2019-2020 season, appearing as Lawyer Frazier in “Porgy and Bess” and Benoit and Alcindoro in Puccini’s “La Boheme.”
In 2017 he joined the music faculty at New York University. He fell in love with teaching
classical voice and helping his students grow as artists and individuals.
While studying in Bologna, Mr. Woodley met his wife, Maria Guido, originally from Italy, who was also studying abroad. On June 12, 1977, they were married in New York. They grew their family in 1990, when twins Jordana and Juliana were born.
In 1993 the family moved from the Bronx to Montclair, where he was known around town as Arthur and the twins. Known for his gracious and gregarious personality, he lit up any room he walked into, always making everyone he encountered feel recognized and important.
Mr. Woodley is survived by his wife, Maria, and his daughters, Jordana and Juliana.
Interment was in St. Croix. Arrangements were by Benta’s Funeral Home in New York.