Opera Scotland

Leo Quayle Suggest updates

Born Pretoria, December 11 1918.
Died Durban, May 19 2005.

South African conductor.

Leo Quayle took up a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in 1937, returning after the war to complete his studies. He then worked in film music. In 1948 he joined Sadler’s Wells for two years as chorus master and assistant conductor, and in that first year he conducted Faust. He was at Welsh National Opera as Music Director 1952-3, introducing Nabucco as well as the premiere of Menna (Arwel Hughes 1953). He spent the 1953 season as Chorus Master at Glyndebourne and then returned to Sadler’s Wells as Principal Conductor. He spent several more seasons in London before moving to South Africa, first as senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University, then as head of the music department at the University of the Orange Free State. In 1964 he moved to Pretoria as director of opera and music for the newly formed PACT (Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal) orchestra. There he conducted a range of works including Tosca with Marie Collier and Tito Gobbi (in 1971). He also conducted Don Pasquale, Carmen and Don Giovanni. In 1976 he added La Bohème and La forza del destino, and in the years up to 1983 Otello, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Rigoletto, Aïda, Turandot, Madama Butterfly, Un Ballo in Maschera and Il Trovatore. He retired from PACT in 1983, spending two years at Calgary Opera and a season with the Bochum orchestra. He returned to South Africa as guest conductor with PACT Ballet.

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