Glade Peterson, 61, internationally famed singer and founder and general manager of the Utah Opera Company, died April 21, 1990, in a Salt Lake hospital after a long illness with cancer.

A world-renowned tenor, Mr. Peterson was principal tenor of the Zurich (Switzerland) Opera for 12 years and guest artist at opera houses in Paris, Milan, Hamburg, and Vienna before he left Europe in 1975 to return to Utah.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 "Das Rheingold."

But Mr. Peterson always maintained ties to his native Utah and community leaders Saturday expressed sorrow over the loss of a great friend.

"Glade Peterson did an incredibly successful job of running the Utah Opera Company with the greatest of artistic and financial success," said Maurice Abravanel, former Utah Symphony music director. "He deserves our gratitude and will be remembered with a place in Utah's history of the arts. I will always miss him, as I have known him personally from the day he auditioned for me more than 40 years ago, and I had the joy of guiding him at the very start of his career. I am immensely sad at his passing, and extend my sympathy to Mardean and the children."

Gov. Norm Bangerter called Peterson a "great friend and I'll miss him. I've known him for years and years - he's done us a lot of favors by coming and singing at special events. Even before I was in politics, he used to come out and sing in my (LDS) ward occasionally.

"He's been a great contributor to our community in the arts and has worked and struggled hard to keep the opera moving. He'll be sorely missed."

"The loss of Glade Peterson is a loss to the state and a deep personal loss to both of us," said Lucy Beth Rampton, wife of former Gov. Calvin Rampton. "His contribution in starting and building the Utah Opera has been a major contribution to the arts in Utah. Calvin served on the opera board with Glade and came to know him very well. We have been concerned throughout this illness and want to extend our love and deep sympathy to the family."

Dan Marriott, former chairman of the Utah Opera board, said, "I am deeply saddened by the passing of a good friend, Glade Peterson. I feel that he has been one of the giants of the community and basically single-handedly brought to Utah the opera and tirelessly promoted it to its current successful position. He wasn't there for the money or personal acclaim. He was in it because he really believed in it and wanted to do something good for the people of Utah. He really succeeded in that effort."

During the past 12 years Mr. Peterson developed the Utah Opera Company from the fledgling stage to a company recognized as the fastest-growing in its budget range ($1 million) in the country. In the beginning, he sang tenor roles (Otello, Canio, Cavaradossi, Dick Johnson) with the company, but in recent years he confined himself to administrative matters.

Just in the past week, he announced plans for Utah Opera's 1990-91 season (see story on E-7).

His expertise as a fund-raiser has been unrivaled, and the company regularly operates in the black. He has been lauded for his casting instincts. Many young singers have sung with Utah Opera before going on to stardom. Opera in the schools has flourished under Mr. Peterson's leadership, with a nucleus of Utah artists taking programs to 70,000 students each year. Besides his work in Utah, Peterson has served on the national board of OPERA America and on the opera panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. Mr. Peterson was born Dec. 17, 1928, in Fairview, and attended North Sanpete High School in Mt. Pleasant.

As a boy he developed a love for horses that persisted throughout his life. A familiar sight for Utahns was Mr. Peterson riding a giant black horse with silver mounted saddle and banner imprinted "Utah Opera" in the Days of '47 Parade, or singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" to open the rodeo.

He began his vocal studies in Salt Lake City after high school, earning his way by working at ZCMI as a clerk. His first voice teacher was Emma Lucy Gates, who first had him sing for Abravanel in 1948.

But Mr. Peterson's studies were interrupted in 1951 when he was drafted into the Army at the outbreak of the Korean War. Serving as a military policeman, he took the opportunity to sing in churches and for the service club.

After the service he returned to Salt Lake City, to his old job at ZCMI and to his studies. During this period he sang for the first time with the Utah Symphony Orchestra and Abravanel in Kingsbury Hall.

Mr. Peterson is survived by his wife, Mardean; children Leslie Adams, Michelle and Kevin; and one grandchild.

In honor of Mr. Peterson, the PRO MUSICA chorus, John Marlowe Nielson conducting, will present its annual spring concert on Saturday, April 28, at 8 p.m. in the Judge Memorial auditorium, 650 S. 1100 East. Funeral services are pending through Larkin Mortuary.