The American bass and Opera Australia vocal coach Joshua Hecht has died at the age of 91.

Joshua Hecht. Photo supplied

Born in New York City in 1928 to Russian Jewish immigrant parents, Hecht was a student of the legendary soprano Rosa Ponselle. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts from New York University in 1951, he made his operatic debut with Ponselle’s Baltimore Civic Opera in 1953 as the Comte des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon.

In 1955, he made his New York City Opera debut as Monterone in Rigoletto, with none other than Cornell MacNeil in the title role. He would sing with the NYCO ensemble for the next five years, appearing in roles like Colline in La Bohème, Angelotti in Tosca, Sparafucile in Rigoletto and Timur in Turandot. His time with the company also saw him take part in the New York premieres of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah and Douglas Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe, the latter of which starred Beverly Sills, another Ponselle protégé.

Away from NYCO, Hecht also performed with San Francisco’s Cosmopolitan Opera and the New Orleans Opera Association. For Fort Worth Opera in 1962, he was the Raimondo in Lily...