Opera Scotland

Robert Parker Suggest updates

Robert Kent Parker.

Born Rpley, New York State, USA, 31 October 1877.

Died Southwark, London, 14 November 1956.

American bass-baritone.

Robert Parker was the leading Wagnerian bass-baritone singing in English n Great Britain during the decade after World War 1.  His operatic career started with the Henry Savage Company, with whom in 1904 he sang as Titurel in the US premiere in Boston of Wagner's Parsifal.  This production was unauthorised as the  opera was still in copyright and only intended to be performed at Bayreuth.

In 1907 he moved to Germany to develop his career by singing for the Hamburg City Opera, and then for the Cologne Opera House, where he is reported to have performed as Wotan in their Ring cycle.

He first moved to England in 1911 to join the Quinlan Opera Company with which he performed mainly Wagnerian roles.  He went on the Quinlan 1912 tour to South Africa and Australia.  The UK tour in 1913 then included four Ring cycles (at Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool and Dublin).  The Quinlan company subsequently undertook a second 'world tour' in 1913/14 which added Canada to repeat visits to South  Africa and  Australia.

During World War 1 he joined the Beecham Opera Company, for whom he sang Wagner roles.  Among a range of other parts he sang Amonasro (Aïda) and Ivan in Rimsky-Korsakov's Ivan the Terrible (The Maid of Pskov).

After the war he spent periods in the United States and Germany.  In 1922 he returned to Britain to join the recently established BNOC.  As their principal bass-baritone he performed a variety of roles including a number of Ring cycles.  Neville Cardus, in 'Talking About Music' (1957) described him as 'the best English Wotan'.  He was also a noted Hans Sachs.  He appeared in Mastersingers with BNOC and its successor Covent Garden Company.  He also sang Wagner roles as a guest with Carl Rosa.

After his retirement from the stage in 1935 he taught singing at Toynbee Hall in the East End of London.

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2024

Site by SiteBuddha