A biography of Edgar Evans, principal tenor at the Royal Opera House (1946–1975) and, later, a teacher at the Royal College of Music.
This is an e-book version of a biography of Edgar Evans, principal tenor at the Royal Opera House (1946–1975) and, later, a teacher at the Royal College of Music. However, it is far more than a thorough, engaging and at times very amusing biography of an acclaimed performer at one of the world’s top opera houses in the 20th century. It is also an insightful account of what national and international artistic life was like at the time.
Woven into the account of Edgar Evans’ life are fascinating anecdotes about famous people of the day set against a colourful local historical background. The stories are made all the more intriguing by the inclusion of copies of scanned documents and black and white photographs of performances and performers.
What may interest you about the life of Edgar Evans
Edgar Evans will be best remembered for creating the role of Hermann in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
In all, he sang some forty-five roles (most of them major ones) at Covent Garden over a period that stretched from 1946 -when, as one of its three principal tenors, he became a founder member of the Covent Garden Opera Company – to his retirement in 1975. In that time, he sang more roles and gave more performances at the Opera House than any other artist.
Subsequently, he conducted his share of masterclasses and adjudicated at singing competitions. Even in his later years he had a regular procession of singers all anxious to learn his secrets of vocal technique and his opinion of their vocal talents and abilities.
On his retirement from Covent Garden, Edgar was invited – by Sir David Willcocks – to join the teaching staff at the Royal College of Music. For ten years he taught vocal technique there and many singers can pay tribute to his masterly teaching.
He sang with leading singers and with leading orchestras, both in this country and on the Continent, and worked with leading conductors including Erich Kleiber, Karl Rankl, Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir John Barbirolli, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Sir Georg Solti, Otto Klemperer, Rudolf Kempe and Carlo Maria Giulini. Among those to whom he felt he owed a special debt of gratitude was Peter Gellhorn who, as a répétiteur and conductor at Covent Garden, taught Edgar the part of Hermann in The Queen of Spades in the remarkably short time of just fourteen hours.
He sang the title role in Peter Grimes and Captain Vere in Billy Budd after Peter Pears had initally brought these characters to theatrical life. He sang Dmitri in Boris Godunov (in English under Clemens Krause and, later, in Russian – being taught the part by David Lloyd Jones and Oda Slobotskyia), Steva in Janacek’s Jenufa under Kubelik, the drum major in Alban Berg’s Wozzeck under Kleiber, Calaf in Turandot under Barbirolli, and many more roles.
Barbirolli and Kleiber were among Edgar’s favourite conductors, closely followed by Kempe and Giulini.
There are a few recordings of Edgar Evans’ performances. They and this book are a tangible legacy of a performer whose life and influence deserves the recognition of a wider audience.
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An engaging and entertaining read about one of the greats. Facinating for a novice like me!
A comprehensive insight into a wonderful career