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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bass Donald Garrard, 1929-2011

A Vancouver native and respected opera bass died recently in South Africa; Don Garrard was 82. Quoting from Opera, a British publication, “Garrard studied in Santa Barbara with Lotte Lehmann. He sang at the Canadian Opera Company, Sadler’s Wells Opera in London, and made his Covent Garden debut as Ferrando in Il Trovatore in 1970. His 120 roles ranged from Boris to Bluebeard, Sarastro to Wotan. He recorded The Rake’s Progress under Stravinsky’s leadership.”

Don Garrard also sang in two productions with Vancouver Opera, as Mephistopheles in Faust in 1976 and as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor in 1982. I had a conversation with a VO patron today who remembered fondly his strong and secure bass voice.

Don Garrard's secure technique and warmth of vocal feeling brought him engagements around the world. In 1969 the Canadian press referred to him as “Probably, the greatest Bass ever to come from this country”.
Notes The Canadian Encyclopedia of Music in Canada:
With his commanding presence, his keen theatrical sense, and a voice both substantial and flexible Garrard [became] respected on both sides of the Atlantic for his effectiveness in the whole range of operatic roles for bass. After his 1988 performance of Verdi's Requiem with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, critic Peter Mose wrote "Garrard's was the voice of the wisest, ripest eminence" (Toronto Star 11 May 1988).
Garrard was resident 1961-85 in England but continued to appear in Canada with the COC, in recital, and on CBC radio and TV.  
In 1989 he moved from Canada to South Africa where he [sang] King Heinrich in Lohengrin, Rocco in Fidelio, and Philip II in Don Carlos, appeared in concerts, and [gave] master classes. He [was] heard on the BBC, RAI (Italy) and PBS networks.”

 - James Wright, General Director, Vancouver Opera


vithekitty said...

Oh I'm sorry to read this. Don was a wonderful warm person. I only got to hear him live once doing Beethoven's 9th the VSO. RIP

Toonguy85 said...

I am saddened by this news. Don did me the favor of letting me interview him for his role in the 1958 Hollywood "B" movie, WOLF DOG, where he played an outlaw. Don was not only multi-talented, but a very genial person to boot. He is missed. My condolences to his family.