Opera Scotland

Roderick Brydon Suggest updates

Born Edinburgh, 8 January 1939.

Died Glasgow, 23 June 2010.

Scottish conductor.

Studies
Daniel Stewart’s College and Edinburgh University (Music).
Caird Trust bursary allowed further study in Vienna (with Swarowsky) and Siena (with Celibidache).

Appointments
1963-69 Sadler’s Wells Opera (Staff Conductor).
1966-68 Scottish National Orchestra (Associate Conductor).
1974-84 Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Principal Conductor).
1979-84 RSAMD Opera School (Musical Director).
1984 Lucerne Opera (General Music Director).
Berne Opera (Musical Director).

Performances of opera
Roderick Brydon worked with Scottish Opera in its opening season (1962) before joining Sadler’s Wells. He made his debut as an opera conductor in 1964 with Sadler’s Wells Opera, conducting Verdi’s Attila on tour in Stratford-upon-Avon That year he also appeared with Scottish Opera (Gounod’s Faust), and his operatic work was divided between the two companies for several years. He frequently conducted SWO on their Scottish tours, and was nearly always the conductor when Scottish Opera took its Britten repertoire abroad. He was particularly associated with Britten’s works, first conducting The Turn of the Screw at Ledlanet in 1966.

With Sadler’s Wells he conducted a wide repertoire in London and on tour, including Mozart (The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni), Rossini (The Barber of Seville), Smetana (The Bartered Bride), Offenbach (Bluebeard), Bizet (Carmen), Saint-Saëns (Samson and Delilah), Puccini (La bohème, Tosca), Janáček (The Makropulos Case, From the House of the Dead), Britten (Gloriana), Ravel (L’Heure espagnole) and Stravinsky (The Rake’s Progress).

Between 1964 and 1991 he presided over more than twenty of Scottish Opera’s productions, many staying in the repertoire for several seasons. After Faust, he came back for Madama Butterfly (1965); Albert Herring (1966); La bohème (1967); Il ballo delle Ingrate (1968); The Turn of the Screw (1970); The Barber of Seville, The Rake’s Progress (1971); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1972); The Coronation of Poppea, The Marriage of Figaro, Peter Grimes (1973); and Lucia di Lammermoor, Elegy for Young Lovers (1974). His later repertoire included Hermiston, Pelléas et Mélisande, The Rape of Lucretia, The Catiline Conspiracy, The Bartered Bride, Simon Boccanegra, L’Egisto, Death in Venice, Werther, Jenůfa and Fidelio. He led the company’s first foreign tour to Florence in 1968 with Albert Herring, and later took the Britten chamber operas to a wide range of European states including Germany, Iceland, Poland, Portugal and what was then Yugoslavia. He led the company when L'Egisto was taken home to Venice in 1982. He taught for many years at the Royal Scottish Academy, and with them in 1981 he conducted the premiere of Kenneth Leighton's Columba.

At Covent Garden he conducted A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and he was the conductor when the famous Australian Opera production of that same work by Baz Luhrmann was brought to Edinburgh in 1994. In London he conducted some rarities, including concert performances for Opera Rara of Medea in Corinto (Mayr) and Il crociato in Egitto (Meyerbeer) and a staging for that company at the 1975 Camden Festival of L'étoile du nord (also Meyerbeer). He went to the Wexford Festival for Medea in Corinto (1974) and Rossini’s La pietra del paragone (1975), and did La traviata and The Rake’s Progress at Opera North. He conducted opera frequently in Europe, including Albert Herring (Hanover, Augsburg, Dortmund, and Copenhagen), Alcina (Karlsruhe), and The Turn of the Screw (Munich, Cologne). He also conducted The Turn of the Screw, Death in Venice and Billy Budd in Geneva. Across the Atlantic he conducted Idomeneo in Los Angeles and Albert Herring in Banff. He took charge of a wide range of works during his years in Lucerne, including Carmen, Don Giovanni and Un ballo in maschera. In Berne he did A Village Romeo and Juliet, Parsifal and Peter Grimes. He later devoted much of his time to operatic work in Australia.

Sources: Various obituaries and programmes.

Last update: 17 November 2012.

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