Opera Scotland

Kenneth Macdonald Suggest updates

Born Iona.

Died London, 7 October 1970.

Scottish tenor.

Kenneth Macdonald's early death at the age of only 47 was a great loss to British opera - he had worked with Sadler's Wells, English Opera Group and Covent Garden. He was an excellent character tenor with a clear unstrained high range and great sense of wit.

He trained under Dino Borgioli, and was a founder member of the Covent Garden Chorus in 1946.  After three years at the Royal Opera House, he spent ten years in various freelance activities.  These included  roles with professional operetta companies on tour.  He also appeared as a guest with major amateur companies,  during which time he created the role of Robin Hood in Campbell's Maid Marian (1956).

In 1959 he returned to Covent Garden as a principal, and was based there for the rest of his career.  He was particularly noted for his performances as the Captain in Wozzeck and the weird Astrologer in The Golden Cockerel. However his repertoire ranged widely, including Mozart (Don Ottavio), Donizetti (Ernesto, Arturo in Lucia), Verdi (Alfredo, Cassio), Musorgsky (Simpleton in Boris Godunov), Strauss (Italian tenor in Der Rosenkavalier) and Britten (Flute, Snout, Albert Herring, Nebuchadnezzar).

Created roles include the bandmaster Zangiacomo in Bennett's Victory (1970).  He was working with the Covent Garden company at rehearsals as Beppe in Pagliacci when he collapsed and died.

His recordings include Arturo in the first Sutherland Lucia di Lammermoor, William Cecil in Roberto Devereux (with Sills) and Francis Flute in Britten's recording of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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