Opera Scotland

Gregory Dempsey Suggest updates

Born Melbourne, 20 July 1931.

Australian tenor.

Gregory Dempsey trained initially as a baritone, but made his debut as Don Ottavio with National Opera of Victoria in 1954. He continued to work with various Australian companies over the next few seasons.

In 1962 he moved to London, joining Sadler's Wells. He used the company as his main UK base for the next fifteen years. His roles at Sadler's Wells and the Coliseum included Tom Rakewell, Peter Grimes, Jimmy Mahoney, Albert Gregor, Skuratov, Don José, Erik, David, Mime (Rhinegold and Siegfried) and the Shepherd (King Roger). He created the role of Boconnion in The Mines of Sulphur (Bennett 1965) and appeared as Dionysus in the British premiere of The Bassarids (Henze), and the title role in the first British staging of The Adventures of Mr Brouček.

He also worked frequently with Scottish Opera, usually in roles he had not sung in London. These included more Britten roles (Albert Herring, Quint and Lysander), as well as Florestan, Aeneas (The Trojans), David and Števa. He created the role of Bothwell in Mary, Queen of Scots (Musgrave 1977). He made his Covent Garden debut in 1972 as Števa, returning as the Drum Major. In the USA he appeared in San Francisco from 1966, as Albert Gregor and Tom Rakewell. He later returned to Sydney to become a member of the Australian Opera.

He made few recordings, but they are worthwhile souvenirs. Firstly, in 1967, he sang Red Whiskers in Britten's studio recording of Billy Budd. The following year he sang one of his best roles, David in The Mastersingers, at Sadler's Wells under Reginald Goodall, and a live recording of that has now been released on CD, as have discs of their Ring cycle. There is also a DVD of Britten's famous studio version of Peter Grimes from 1969, in which he plays Bob Boles.

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