Opera Scotland

John Robertson Suggest updates

Born Galashiels, 20 September 1938.

Scottish tenor.

John Robertson enjoyed a career unique in the history of Scottish Opera, and very unusual for any opera company. After graduating from Edinburgh University, he was a member of the chorus for the company's opening production of Madama Butterfly in 1962, and the following season was a founder member of the Scottish Opera Chorus, when Otello was first staged. In 1964 he started to sing solo roles with the company, his first being Roderigo in the Otello revival.

Musical interest was first sparked in the chapel choir and school orchestra at Sedbergh in Yorkshire. His subject at university from 1957 was Mathematics, but he also studied singing with John Tainsh and Marie Thomson, and joined the University Opera Club, conducted by a fellow-student, Roderick Brydon. He sang four principal roles with Edinburgh Grand Opera - Faust, Hoffmann, Don José and Ishmael. His appearances with Glasgow Grand were as Macduff, Nadir, Ernani and Arnold. With the Edinburgh group, he was a member of the chorus that boosted the numbers for the final scene of Fidelio on the 1959 Sadler's Wells tour, conducted by Colin Davis in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee.

For three seasons from 1966 he toured the country singing with the Scottish group of Opera for All, in a series of roles including Almaviva, Ramiro, Ferrando, Ottavio, Ernesto, Goro and Pinkerton. During his years as a principal with the main company, he performed a wide range of leading repertoire. These parts included Mozart (Basilio, Ottavio, Ferrando, Monostatos and Tamino); Rossini (Almaviva); Donizetti (Ernesto); Strauss (Valzacchi, Dancing Master); Janáček (Tikhon, Vitek); Britten (Male Chorus, Albert, Quint) and Hamilton (Cicero). He also had memorable success in a number of shorter roles such as Hylas and Iopas in The Trojans, the Simpleton in Boris Godunov. Goro, and the Emperor in Turandot.

His last solo appearance, in 2006, came in the closing concert of the Edinburgh Festival, when he took on a further new role as Moser in Die Meistersinger, appearing with other veterans including John Shirley-Quirk, John Mitchinson and Richard Van Allan. In later years he continued to work regularly as a member of the chorus, making his most recent appearances in the 2013 production of The Flying Dutchman and the 2014 concert presentation of Turandot - an astonishing record of over half a century of service with the company.

He taught extensively both at the RNCM in Manchester and the RSAMD in Glasgow. His long-term commitments with Scottish Opera left little opportunity to work elsewhere, but he did sing Almaviva as a guest with Phoenix Opera in 1971.

Roles in Scotland

Nadir a fisherman, friend of Zurga
Pearl Fishers 1962
Ernani a bandit chief, in fact Don Juan of Aragon
Ernani 1963
Roderigo a Venetian gentleman
Otello 1964
Otello 1967
Otello 1975
Otello 1977
Arnold Melcthal's son
William Tell 1964
Boyar in attendance
Boris Godunov 1965
Boris Godunov 1968
Lavitsky a Jesuit
Boris Godunov 1965
Boris Godunov 1968
Don Ramiro Prince of Salerno
Cenerentola 1966
Cenerentola 1967
Ferrando a young army officer
Cosi fan tutte 1966
Così fan tutte 1967
Goro marriage broker
Madam Butterfly 1966
Madam Butterfly 1967
Madam Butterfly 1968
Madam Butterfly 1973
Madam Butterfly 1978
Madam Butterfly 1980
Parpignol a toy vendor
Bohème 1967
Don Curzio a lawyer
Nozze di Figaro 1968
Nozze di Figaro 1975
Nozze di Figaro 1976
Luiz the Duke's Attendant
Gondoliers 1968
Gondoliers 1969
Rev Horace Adams the Rector
Peter Grimes 1968
Peter Grimes 1973
Peter Grimes 1980
Mr Upfold the Mayor
Albert Herring 1969
Andra a neighbour
Full Circle 1969
Helenus a Trojan priest, son of Priam
Trojans 1969
Trojans 1972
Hylas a young Phrygian sailor
Trojans 1969
Trojans 1972
Don Ottavio engaged to Anna
Don Giovanni 1970
Don Giovanni 1971
Don Giovanni 1976
Prologue
Turn of the Screw 1970
Turn of the Screw 1971
Turn of the Screw 1986
Monostatos a servant in the Temple
Zauberflöte 1970
Zauberflöte 1971
Peter Quint a former manservant
Turn of the Screw 1971
Turn of the Screw 1973
Turn of the Screw 1975
Turn of the Screw 1977
Major- domo to the Marschallin
Rosenkavalier 1971
Albert Herring from the greengrocer's
Albert Herring 1971
Sellem an auctioneer
Rake's Progress 1971
Count Almaviva
Barbiere di Siviglia 1972
Barbiere di Siviglia 1974
Barbiere di Siviglia 1975
Don Basilio a priest and music master
Nozze di Figaro 1972
Nozze di Figaro 1973
Nozze di Figaro 1977
Nozze di Figaro 1980
Ernesto Pasquale's nephew
Don Pasquale 1972
Tom Snout a tinker
Midsummer Night's Dream 1972
Midsummer Night's Dream 1973
Midsummer Night's Dream 1976
Midsummer Night's Dream 1979
Midsummer Night's Dream 1980
Midsummer Night's Dream 1982
Iopas a Tyrien minstrel at Dido's court
Trojans 1972
Lucano Lucan, a poet
Incoronazione di Poppea 1973
Bogdanowitsch Pontevedrian Consul
Lustige Witwe 1973
Lustige Witwe 1974
First Soldier of Nero's bodyguard
Incoronazione di Poppea 1973
First Priest
Zauberflöte 1974
Zauberflöte 1974
Normanno the Ashtons' forester
Lucia di Lammermoor 1974
Lucia di Lammermoor 1975
Lucia di Lammermoor 1981
First Armed Man
Zauberflöte 1974
Zauberflöte 1974
Tamino a Prince
Zauberflöte 1974
Zauberflöte 1974
Valzacchi an intriguer
Rosenkavalier 1974
Rosenkavalier 1978
Cethegus conspirator and senator
Catiline Conspiracy 1974
Simpleton
Boris Godunov 1974
Dancing Master
Ariadne on Naxos 1975
Ariadne on Naxos 1976
Ariadne on Naxos 1977
Lord Chief Justice
Masked Ball 1975
Toni Reischmann the doctor's son
Elegy for Young Lovers 1975
Caius Dr Caius, a Frenchman
Falstaff 1976
Falstaff 1977
Ulrich Eisslinger a grocer
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1976
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1977
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1978
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1983
Male Chorus
Rape of Lucretia 1976
Rape of Lucretia 1977
Rape of Lucretia 1978
Earl of Ruthven
Mary, Queen of Scots 1977
Witch
Hansel and Gretel 1978
Cicero Consul
Catiline Conspiracy 1978
Rabbi
Fiddler on the Roof 1979
Fiddler on the Roof 1986
Prince Guidon son of Dodon
Golden Cockerel 1979
Golden Cockerel 1983
Uriel an archangel
Creation 1979
Matteo Borsa a courtier
Rigoletto 1979
Rigoletto 1980
Rigoletto 1984
Tikhon Ivanovich Kabanov Kabanicha's son
Kátya Kabanová 1979
Cock
Cunning Little Vixen 1980
Cunning Little Vixen 1982
Vítek a solicitor's clerk
Makropulos Case 1981
Monsieur Triquet a Frenchman, tutor to the sisters
Eugene Onegin 1981
Blind Eisenstein's lawyer
Fledermaus 1981
Spoletta police agent
Tosca 1982
Tosca 1986
Hotel Porter
Death in Venice 1983
Death in Venice 1988
Emperor Altoum
Turandot 1984
Monsieur Taupe a prompter
Capriccio 1985
Old Prisoner Antonov
From the House of the Dead 1987
Augustin Moser a tailor
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 2006

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