Opera Scotland

John Matheson Suggest updates

Henry John Parke Matheson.

Born Seacliff, Otago, 14 May 1928.

Died Brisbane, 16 March 2009.

New Zealand conductor.

A music degree from Otago University was followed by a two-year scholarship at the Royal College of Music. He was Chorus Master at Carl Rosa, then repetiteur at SWO for one year, then at Covent Garden for eight years.

He rejoined Sadler’s Wells in the early 1960s, conducting several hundred performances over many years, of a wide range of operas from Die Fledermaus and La Vie Parisienne to The Flying Dutchman and Boulevard Solitude. With the Chelsea Opera Group he conducted several Verdi operas including Aïda (1976, and Rita Hunter's only UK performance), and original French versions of Don Carlos (1971) and Les Vêpres Sicilieenes (1977), as well as Don Giovanni and Guillaume Tell. He also conducted at Covent Garden, both ballet and opera, including Simon Boccanegra, Don Pasquale, Wozzeck, Faust and Falstaff. For the BBC he made recordings of early versions of Verdi operas – Macbeth, Simon Boccanegra, La forza del destino, and Don Carlos, all now commercially available.

In 1977 he moved to Mannheim as chief conductor, working also in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich. In Genoa he conducted Lulu in 1982. Other performances in Italy include Madama Butterfly at Spoleto, I Masnadieri at Pisa, and Les Pelerins de la Mecque at La Piccola Scala.

In 1985 he returned to New Zealand, conducting concerts, ballet and opera. In 1988 he became Music Director of the Lyric Opera of Queensland, and remained in Brisbane. His students included the New Zealand baritone Barry Mora.

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