Opera Scotland

William McCue Suggest updates

Born Allanton, Lanarkshire, 17 August 1934.

Died Airdrie, 10 September 1999.

Scottish bass.

Bill McCue enjoyed a long and varied career as a musical entertainer in Scotland.

The breadth of his talent allowed him to perform with equal ease in concerts of traditional Scots songs, in musicals and in operas by Mozart and Wagner, Britten and Verdi.

For several years he was a member of the Scottish Arts Council, and in 1982 he was awarded the OBE for services to music.

Early career

His first job was as an electrician in the mining industry. The National Coal Board eventually gave him a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music, where his teachers included Roy Henderson and Heddle Nash. He had begun his musical training at the RSAMD in Glasgow, before moving on to RNCM in Manchester and finally London.

A busy and varied career only rarely allowed appearances with the London companies, but there were some in the early years. McCue toured to Russia with the English Opera Group in 1964, singing Supt Budd in Albert Herring. He only sang small roles at Covent Garden, including the Bosun in a 1965 revival of Billy Budd. The same season he worked with the New Opera Company at Sadler's Wells, as the Innkeeper in the first British staging of The Fiery Angel by Prokofiev.

Scottish Opera

His operatic debut came in the first week of Scottish Opera performances in 1962, singing the Bonze. He appeared with the company for the next thirty consecutive seasons in over sixty roles, making his last appearance in 1997. His range was substantial. Wagner parts included Fasolt, Hunding and King Mark. Mozart appearances were as the Commendatore, Sarastro, and Bartolo. McCue sang Rocco at every performance of Peter Ebert's excellent Fidelio staging between 1970 and 1984. Other of his more serious roles included Pimen, Raimondo, Sparafucile, Lodovico, Count Ribbing and a particularly effective Fiesco.

McCue was also adept at character roles, singing both Don Basilio and Dr Bartolo in different productions of The Barber of Seville, Dulcamara, Peachum, King Dodon, the Sacristan  and Kecal. He gave innumerable performances all over Europe as Supt Budd and as Bottom when the company toured its stagings of Albert Herring and A Midsummer Night's Dream. In operetta he featured as Don Alhambra in The Gondoliers, the Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe, Zeta in The Merry Widow and Frank in Die Fledermaus. He also acted as co-producer for Peter Ebert's staging of Fiddler on the Roof, in which he played Tevye.

He created roles in four new works with Scottish Opera. These were the Barman in Full Circle (Orr 1968); title role in The Undertaker (Purser 1969); Crassus in The Catiline Conspiracy (Hamilton 1974); and Gordon in Mary, Queen of Scots (Musgrave 1977).

Beyond opera

His non-operatic career centred on performing Scottish songs on three long-running broadcast shows. The popularity of the radio series It's a Fine Thing to Sing was probably exceeded by the two TV series, McCue's Music and Double Bill.

Like several predecessors, McCue made extensive musical tours of the Commonwealth countries, entertaining thousands of people of Scots descent.  He was also a frequent performer at Burns' Night events.

Roles in Scotland

Messiah 1960
Messiah 1974
Bonze a priest, Cio-Cio-San's uncle
Madam Butterfly 1962
Madam Butterfly 1965
Montano predecessor of Otello in Cyprus
Otello 1963
Otello 1964
Otello 1967
Inspector Robineau
Night Flight 1963
Commendatore an elderly aristocrat
Don Giovanni 1964
Don Giovanni 1971
Don Giovanni 1976
Nikitich a police officer
Boris Godunov 1965
Superintendent Budd police officer
Albert Herring 1966
Albert Herring 1967
Albert Herring 1968
Albert Herring 1969
Albert Herring 1970
Albert Herring 1971
Fasolt a giant
Rheingold 1967
Rheingold 1971
Plutone Pluto, Lord of the Underworld
Ballo delle ingrate 1968
Pimen a monk and chronicler
Boris Godunov 1968
Boris Godunov 1974
Bartolo a doctor, the Countess's former guardian
Nozze di Figaro 1968
Nozze di Figaro 1972
Nozze di Figaro 1973
Nozze di Figaro 1975
Nozze di Figaro 1976
Nozze di Figaro 1986
Nozze di Figaro 1987
Don Alhambra del Bolero the Grand Inquisitor
Gondoliers 1968
Gondoliers 1969
Full Circle 1968
Full Circle 1968
Mass in E flat, D950 1968
Pantheus a Trojan priest and friend of Aeneas (Panthée)
Trojans 1969
Undertaker 1969
Rocco gaoler
Fidelio 1970
Fidelio 1974
Fidelio 1977
Fidelio 1984
Hunding husband of Sieglinde
Valkyrie 1971
Valkyrie 1972
Don Basilio a singing teacher
Barbiere di Siviglia 1971
Barbiere di Siviglia 1972
Barbiere di Siviglia 1975
Commissioner of Police
Rosenkavalier 1971
Nick Bottom a weaver
Midsummer Night's Dream 1972
Midsummer Night's Dream 1973
Midsummer Night's Dream 1976
Midsummer Night's Dream 1979
Midsummer Night's Dream 1980
Midsummer Night's Dream 1982
Baron Mirko Zeta Pontevedrian Ambassador in Paris
Lustige Witwe 1973
Lustige Witwe 1974
Lustige Witwe 1976
Lustige Witwe 1977
King Mark King of Cornwall, Tristan's uncle
Tristan und Isolde 1973
Crassus Consul
Catiline Conspiracy 1974
Catiline Conspiracy 1978
Colline a philosopher
Bohème 1974
Bohème 1975
Bohème 1976
Bohème 1979
Lodovico envoy of the Venetian republic
Otello 1975
Otello 1976
Otello 1977
Count Ribbing a conspirator (Sam)
Masked Ball 1975
Pistola Pistol, a follower of Falstaff
Falstaff 1976
Falstaff 1977
King Dodon
Golden Cockerel 1977
Golden Cockerel 1979
Golden Cockerel 1983
Lord Gordon
Mary, Queen of Scots 1977
Sarastro High Priest of Isis and Osiris
Zauberflöte 1977
Jacopo Fiesco a patrician, later disguised as Andrea Grimaldi
Simon Boccanegra 1978
Simon Boccanegra 1979
Kecal a marriage broker
Bartered Bride 1978
Bartered Bride 1985
Sparafucile a professional assassin
Rigoletto 1979
Rigoletto 1980
Rigoletto 1984
Mumlal a gamekeeper
Two Widows 1979
Two Widows 1980
Savel Prokofievich Dikoj a merchant
Kátya Kabanová 1979
Tevye the milkman
Fiddler on the Roof 1979
Fiddler on the Roof 1986
Tosca 1980
Tosca 1982
Tosca 1986
Tosca 1990
Bartolo a doctor, Rosina's guardian
Barbiere di Siviglia 1980
Swallow lawyer, Mayor of The Borough
Peter Grimes 1980
Raimondo Bide the Bent, the Ashtons' chaplain
Lucia di Lammermoor 1981
Mr Peachum a 'fence'
Beggar's Opera 1981
Cunning Little Vixen 1982
Cunning Little Vixen 1991
Cunning Little Vixen 1997
Le Bailli a magistrate
Werther 1983
Werther 1986
Norton Mill's cashier
Cambiale di matrimonio 1984
Cambiale di matrimonio 1985
Germano a servant
Silken Ladder 1984
Silken Ladder 1985
Dulcamara a quack doctor
Elisir d'amore 1984
Prison Governor
From the House of the Dead 1987
Benoit the students' landlord
Bohème 1988
Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta
Bohème 1988
Frank prison governor
Fledermaus 1989
Fledermaus 1990
Abraham Kaplan
Street Scene 1989
Horace Giddens a banker, Regina's husband
Regina 1991
Noyes Fludde 1991
Lord Chancellor
Iolanthe 1995

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