Opera Scotland

William Heughan Suggest updates

Born Dalbeattie, Kirkudbrightshire.

Died Tarland, Aberdeenshire, August 1965.

Scottish bass and poet.

William Heughan enjoyed several years after war service as a singer in opera and concert. This was followed by a much longer second career in the contrasting world of agriculture. He was also a noted poet, particularly on war subjects.

He studied singing in London, at the Royal College of Music, then in Milan, under Vincenzo Sabbatini. In Italian houses his repertoire included Oroveso, Ramfis, Sarastro, Sparafucile, Alvise (La gioconda), and Méphistophélès. After his war service, with the Gordon Highlanders, he returned to his operatic career, joining the O'Mara company, and also working at Covent Garden. His repertoire in those years included Count Almaviva, the Landgrave, Sparafucile, Cardinal de Brogni, King of Spain (Maritana), both Saint Bris and Marcel in Les Huguenots, and both Friar Lawrence and Capulet in Roméo et Juliette, as well as many more performances as Méphistophélès.

Foreign concert tours included visits to Australia and New Zealand. At Promenade Concerts under Sir Henry Wood his solos included monologues by King Philip (1933) and Boris Godunov (1935). He often sang in concerts of Scots songs, including a series of annual Burns commemmorations held in the Royal Albert Hall. He retired from singing while still at the height of his powers.

In the mid-thirties he returned to his farming roots, becoming a celebrated breeder of pedigree cattle in Aberdeenshire, combined with a notable career in estate management. At the time of his death, aged 78, he was chairman of the MacRobert Trusts, Douneside Estate, Tarland. In 1964, he was awarded honorary membership of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. He was also given an honorary doctorate by the University of Aberdeen, for services to agriculture.

Roles in Scotland

Hermann Landgrave of Thuringia
Tannhäuser 1915
Comte de Saint Bris a Catholic nobleman
Huguenots 1916
Raimondo Bide the Bent, the Ashtons' chaplain
Lucia di Lammermoor 1916

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