Opera Scotland

Stafford Dean Suggest updates

Stafford Roderick Dean.

Born Kingswood,  Surrey, 20 June 1937.

English bass.

Stafford Dean had a notable international career, particularly singing Mozart roles (Figaro, Leporello) in the world's major houses. However his repertoire was far more varied than that suggests.  Dean had a lengthy association with Scottish Opera, as well as with ENO and Glyndebourne.

Early career

Stafford Dean studied at the Royal College of Music under Gordon Clinton, and continued to work privately with the bass Howell Glynne and baritone Otakar Kraus.  He joined Sadler's Wells in 1964, remaining with the company for the next six years, singing a variety of bass roles in London and on tour.  His debut was as Zuniga Carmen, and he soon added parts by Monteverdi (Pluto Orfeo); Mozart (Leporello, Sarastro);  Beethoven (Rocco);  Rossini (Alidoro);  Wagner (Daland); Verdi (Sparafucile, Ribbing, Padre Guardiano); Strauss (Truffaldino) and Puccini (Colline).  In 1967 he created the role of Samuel Breze in A Penny for a Song (Bennett).  During this period, roles at Glyndebourne included the Magistrate in Werther and Rochefort in Anna Bolena.

His debut at Covent Garden came in 1969, as Masetto, followed by the He-Ancient in The Midsummer Marriage.  Major roles he sang at the Royal Opera House in later seasons included Narbal in The Trojans, Leporello, Figaro, Don Alfonso, Rangoni, Gessler (in Guillaume Tell), Bottom, and Alfonso d'Este in Lucrezia Borgia (with Joan Sutherland).  In 1987 he sang the Prime Minister in the British première of The King Goes Forth to France by Aulis Sallinen. 

Dean also sang Don Alfonso at Glyndebourne and Don Pedro in Beatrice and Benedict at ENO. 

Roles with Welsh National included Sarastro and a notable performance as Philip II in Don Carlos.


His debut with Scottish Opera came in 1970, as Leporello, and he appeared with the company frequently over the next thirty years, in a wide range of parts (at least eighteen) by a varied list of composers including Monteverdi (Seneca);  Mozart (Osmin, Figaro, Leporello, Sarastro);  Beethoven (Rocco);  Donizetti (Dulcamara, Cecil);  Wagner (Titurel);  Verdi (King of Egypt);  Tchaikovsky (Gremin);  Dvořák (Vilém The Jakobin);  Puccini (Timur);  Strauss (La Roche); Delius (Wapanacki The Magic Fountain)  and Stravinsky (Tiresias).  He created the double role of Cardinal Beaton and David Riccio in Mary, Queen of Scots (Musgrave 1977), and he also created the King of Portugal in Inés de Castro (MacMillan 1996).

International career

His international work began in 1971 with performances of Leporello in Stuttgart, then at the Munich Festival, both in stagings by Gunther Rennert.  He soon afterwards sang in Hamburg, Berlin. Prague and Bordeaux.  His career developed rapidly with appearances in most of the major houses, particularly in the roles of Figaro and Leporello, which he sang in Cologne, Hamburg, Munich, Amsterdam, Vienna, Tokyo, San Francisco, Paris and Aix-en-Provence.  He also sang Figaro in Chicago (1975) and at the New York Met (1976).


Dean's recordings include Abednego in Britten's own recording of The Burning Fiery Furnace.  He also recorded Rochefort in Anna Bolena, Monteverdi Madrigals including Pluto in Il ballo delle ingrate, Trulove in The Rake's Progress, Tiresias in Oedipus Rex, the Dark Fiddler in A Village Romeo and Juliet and Pirro in I Lombardi.   Vocal recordings include the Mozart 'Coronation' and 'C minor' Masses, both with Colin Davis. 

While Inés de Castro was televised by the BBC, the tape has never been made available commercially. However Dean can be seen on DVD due to the televising of the Covent Garden staging of Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia in 1980. He sings the role of Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, with Dame Joan Sutherland as his wife (the title role),  Alfredo Kraus as Gennaro and Anne Howells (Mrs Dean at the time) as Maffio Orsini.

Revised February 2020.

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