Opera Scotland

Derek Hammond Stroud Suggest updates

Born Stanmore, Middlesex, 10 January 1926.

Died Shrewsbury,  14 May 2012.

English baritone.

Derek Hammond Stroud enjoyed a successful career in opera and recital work, performing regularly with Sadler'sWells Opera, in roles that ranged from Rossini's Bartolo and Don Magnifico to Verdi's Rigoletto. He was particularly renowned for his interpretations of two Wagner parts, Beckmesser and Alberich, and for the complete contrast of Bunthorne in Patience.

He spent some time on army service in Burma and India, with the Royal West African Frontier Force. On his return he studied ophthalmic optics at Northampton Polytechnic (now the City University) from 1947 to 1949. He then worked as an ophthalmic optician before switching to singing, training in London at Trinity College of Music and in Germany with two great lieder singers, Elena Gerhardt and Gerhard Hüsch. He was always thereafter renowned for the clarity of his diction. His professional debut in 1955 was in the British première of Haydn's Orfeo ed Euridice, in a concert performance at the St Pancras Festival. He returned there in 1957 for Publius in La clemenza di Tito, at that time a work almost unknown, and again in 1963 for Rossini's La pietra del paragone.

In 1961 he joined Sadler's Wells Opera, where his early roles included Papageno, Bartolo and Cecil in Britten's Gloriana, as well as appearances in operettas by Offenbach and Strauss. He sang major roles by Verdi, both comic (Melitone) and serious (Rigoletto). His appearance as Bunthorne in John Cox's landmark production of Patience was highly memorable, in partnership with the Lady Jane of Heather Begg, who was later succeeded by the equally majestic Anne Collins. In 1968, under the guidance of conductor Reginald Goodall, he sang Beckmesser in the famous Sadler's Wells staging of Mastersingers, and a couple of years later, after the move to the Coliseum, added Alberich as the company built up its first Ring cycle. Two other serious roles he took on were Tonio in Pagliacci and Napoleon in Colin Graham's epic staging of Prokofiev's War and Peace.

He first sang Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier at Covent Garden in 1971. This was a role he also sang many times at the New York Met from 1977. Other parts at Covent Garden included Yamadori,  the Sacristan in Tosca, and Benoît, the grasping landlord in the first act of La bohème. This last role gained him great publicity on one occasion when he finished his performance and jumped into a taxi which took him to the Coliseum where he was scheduled to appear as Napoleon. He seems to have changed make-up and much of his costume en route.

His only Edinburgh Festival performances were in the Glyndebourne Chorus (1960), then as one of the reciters in a performance of Walton's Façade in 1974. At the Glyndebourne Festival he appeared in Einem's The Visit of the Old Lady (1973) and as Mr Upfold in Peter Hall's 1984 staging of Albert Herring.

His performances as Beckmesser and Alberich are both preserved in live performances on CD. He also recorded Melitone and Faninal, and earlier appearances on disc include Sadler's Wells operetta extracts as Calchas in La belle Hélène and Zsupan in The Gipsy Baron. He can also be seen on two of the Warner Video series of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, as Bunthorne in a recreation of the John Cox production of Patience, and as the Lord Chancellor in a staging of Iolanthe by David Pountney. The Glyndebourne Albert Herring has also been available on DVD. The BBC have, however, never released a video of The Bear by Walton, conducted by the composer in 1970, in which he sings the servant, Luka.

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