Opera Scotland

Alexander Young Suggest updates

Basil Alexander Young.

Born London, 18 October 1920.

Died Macclesfield, 5 March 2000.

English tenor.

Alexander Young was an excellent lyric tenor, noted particularly for performances of Mozart and Rossini. He was an important element of the Handel revival through performances of oratorio and the unearthing of unknown operas. He also sang a good deal of new music, and was a noted interpreter of Tom Rakewell, being chosen by Stravinsky to record the role.

After war service he gained a scholarship to train at the Royal College of Music, completing his studies with Pollmann at the Vienna State Academy. Joining the Glyndebourne chorus in 1948, his professional solo debut came at the 1950 Edinburgh Festival under Sir Thomas Beecham, singing Scaramuccio in Carl Ebert's famous revival of the original version of Ariadne auf Naxos.

He first sang the role of Tom Rakewell for a BBC Radio production in 1953. His first stage performance of the part came in the Sadler's Wells production of 1962, which formed the basis of Stravinsky's own 1965 recording. He sang it in two productions with Scottish Opera, Peter Ebert's for Stravinsky year at the 1967 Edinburgh Festival, and David Pountney's rather different concept in 1971.

He created roles in new operas throughout his career, starting with Charles Darnay in A Tale of Two Cities by Arthur Benjamin (BBC Radio 1953), Philippe in A Dinner Engagement by Lennox Berkeley (Aldeburgh 1954), and Cicero in The Catiline Conspiracy by Iain Hamilton (Stirling 1974).

His Covent Garden debut in 1955 was as Vašek. Later appearances were as Monostatos, Gonzalve in L'Heure Espagnole, Matteo in Arabella, and Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream. With Sadler's Wells he had particular success in Rossini, as Ramiro, Almaviva and Count Ory. Other roles included Eisenstein, Tom Rakewell, Tamino, Belmonte, and Jupiter in Semele. He sang Orpheus in three different works, by Monteverdi, Gluck (the rarely performed French version) and Offenbach. He sang Popristchin in Diary of a Madman by Humphrey Searle (British Premiere at Sadler's Wells 1960).

With the Handel Opera Society he appeared as Jupiter, Bajazet and Xerxes. He sang the title-role in Idomeneo for Welsh National Opera. His first appearance with Scottish Opera was in 1964 as Don Ottavio. He returned not just as Tom Rakewell and Cicero, but also as Ferrando.

He also had an important teaching career, occupying the post of Head of Vocal Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester from 1973 to 1986.

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