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The World's Oldest Living Tenor Celebrates His 105th Birthday (And He's a Newlywed, No Less!)

By Matthew Westphal
26 Jun 2007

105-year-old tenor Hugues Cuénod and his partner, Alfred Augustin.

Hugues Cuénod — the Swiss tenor who was a member of Nadia Boulanger's madrigal group, sang in the world premiere of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, played one of the animals in The Cunning Little Vixen for Simon Rattle's Glyndebourne debut, and made his own Metropolitan Opera debut at age 84 — celebrates his 105th birthday today.

He won't be out partying, though. "I will probably stay in bed," he told the Associated Press in a telephone interview yesterday. "I won't do anything special," he told the Swiss news agency ATS earlier this year, "I'll wait for the next [birthday] — if there is one!"

As for his longevity, he told ATS, "It's not my fault, I didn't do anything for it! I'm in good health, I'm lazy and I have a [dear] friend to look after me."

Which is to say that Cuénod got married earlier this year — well, okay, he got civil union-ed. He and his partner of two decades, a 64-year-old retired Swiss civil servant named Alfred Augustin, registered their partnership in January after Swiss law was changed to give same-sex couples most of the legal benefits of marriage. "It was a logical decision, especially at this age!" Augustin told ATS.

"Most people were happy for us," he continued, "though a few promised us 15,000 years in hell."

The two live together in the Château de Lully, which overlooks Lake Geneva not far from Lausanne and has belonged to Cuénod's family for more than two centuries. The birthday boy is now hard of hearing and can no longer read, reports ATS, but he still gets out of bed every morning, eats his meals at the table and regularly visits restaurants. "I have a quiet life, I receive some visitors," he says. "I'm very happy and don't particularly think about the future. For me the future is perhaps several months."

But Augustin tells ATS that "Hugues still likes to go riding in the car, especially with the top down so he can let his long white hair blow in the wind."




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