Nicolae Herlea (28 August 1927 – February 24, 2014) was a Romanian operatic baritone, particularly associated with the Italian repertory, especially the role of Rossini's Figaro, which he sang around 550 times during his career.
Born in Bucharest, Romania, Herlea studied at the Bucharest Music Conservatory under Aurelius Costescu-Duca, and later at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome under Giorgio Favaretto. In 1951, he won first prizes in international singing contests in Geneva, Prague, and Brussels. He made his stage debut that same year at the National Opera of Bucharest as Silvio in Pagliacci, quickly establishing himself as the principal baritone there.
In 1958, he began appearing abroad, particularly at the Bolshoi in Moscow, to where he regularly returned. He also made guest appearances at London's Royal Opera House (1961), La Scala in Milan (1963) and the Metropolitan Opera in New York (1964–67), and also performed at the Liceo in Barcelona, the Berlin Staatsoper, the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival, La Monnaie in Brussels, and in the opera houses of Prague and Budapest.
He made complete studio recordings of Il barbiere di Siviglia, Lucia di Lammermoor, Rigoletto, La traviata, La forza del destino, Cavalleria rusticana, "Pagliacci" andTosca, on labels such as Supraphon and Electrecord.
Herlea also had a successful career in the concert-hall. After he retired, he taught master classes at the Bucharest Conservatory.
He was the President of the Jury of the Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition.
He married Simona, a gynecologist, in 1969, and they had two sons, Robert Nicolae and Filip Anton. In 1983, Simona defected to Germany. During the last years of his life, Herlea lived in Frankfurt, Germany, with his wife and sons.
- "An epic Figaro has died". Retrieved February 25, 2014.
- "Vocatie - Nicolae Herlea: "Aveam vocea dată de la Dumnezeu"" (in Romanian). jurnalul.ro. Retrieved February 25, 2014.