He was born in Cluj-Napoca, studied at the local Academy of Music, and made his debut in the role of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly in 1979. After winning first prize at the Lucca singing competition, he sang Don Giovanni in Livorno in 1983. He debuted at Covent Garden as Renato in Un ballo in maschera in 1988, and has been a regular guest of the theatre ever since. He has sung, among others, the roles of Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Simon Boccanegra, Rigoletto, Germont (La traviata), Amonasro (Aida), Nabucco, Miller (Luisa Miller), Iago (Otello) and Barnaba (Gioconda). He has sung at La Scala, Milan (L'elisir d'amore, Don Carlos, Madama Butterfly), Teatro Comunale, Florence (Aida, Macbeth), La Fenice, Venice (Simon Boccanegra) the Verona Arena (La forza del destino, Nabucco) the Vienna Staatsoper (Il trovatore, La Bohème, Un ballo in maschera, La traviata), the Bastille Opera, Paris (Un ballo in maschera, La traviata, Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra), the Deutsche Oper, Berlin (André Chénier, Nabucco, La fanciulla del West), the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich (Il trovatore, Un ballo in maschera, Aida, La forza del destino). Since his debut at the Metropolitan (1999, Simon Boccanegra) he has been a regular guest there. Babeş-Bolyai University conferred an honorary degree on him in 2005.