Opera Scotland

Donald Maxwell Suggest updates

Born Perth, 12 December 1948.

Scottish baritone.

Donald Maxwell's long international career is one of the most notable to have been enjoyed by a Scottish singer. He has also been very versatile, with several years performing the leading dramatic baritone roles. Subsequently he has sung at the same major houses in a range of comic and character parts.

His initial studies at Edinburgh University were in Geography, and he taught the subject 1971-76 while singing with several Scottish amateur groups. He studied singing privately with the famous Scottish tenor Joseph Hislop. In 1976 he joined Scottish Opera, making his debut as Morton in Mary, Queen of Scots. Over the next few seasons, he sang a host of short but significant roles including Paolo Albiani, Monterone, Masetto, Angelotti and Ned Keene. He later added Rossini's Figaro as well as Sharpless, Enrico Ashton and Zurga. In more recent years he has returned for performances of major roles, especially in operas by Janáček. He was also able to fit in short visits to Haddo, to sing Escamillo and Gremin.

In 1982 he made his debut with Welsh National, as Anckarström. and later sang Rigoletto, Jack Rance, Marcello, Don Alfonso and Count Almaviva. Two famous roles were Iago and Falstaff in Peter Stein's prestigious stagings of Verdi's last two operas. These were toured to La Scala Milan and New York, and the Falstaff production came to Edinburgh. A further collaboration with Stein was as Golaud in a production of Pelléas conducted by Pierre Boulez.

With ENO, from 1983, his varied repertoire included Yeletsky, Baron Prus, Figaro, Eisenstein and Wozzeck, as well as Peter in Hansel and Gretel and Leander in The Love for Three Oranges.  His Covent Garden debut in 1987, as the English Archer in The King Goes Forth to France (Sallinen), was followed by performances as Donner and Gunther. International appearances include Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Paris and the New York Met.

He has enjoyed a close relationship over many years with the Buxton Festival, starting with the Ghost and Gravedigger in Hamlet (1980), and was for several seasons the festival director. He also became a well-known teacher, spending some time as principal of the National Opera Studio. His career as a character singer has included parts such as Hortensius in La Fille du Régiment at both Covent Garden and the Met, as well as Pooh-Bah in many performances of The Mikado at ENO. With Welsh National, recent performances have included Mirko Zeta in The Merry Widow and Somarone in Béatrice et Bénédict.

Roles in Scotland

Count Monterone
Rigoletto 1973
Rigoletto 1980
Alfio the village carter
Cavalleria Rusticana 1973
Count Almaviva
Nozze di Figaro 1974
Christian a sailor (Silvano)
Masked Ball 1975
Don Carlo di Vargas
Force of Destiny 1976
Herald
Otello 1977
Earl of Morton
Mary, Queen of Scots 1977
Foreman at the mill
Jenůfa 1978
Paolo Albiani a goldsmith, initially a friend of Simon
Simon Boccanegra 1978
Simon Boccanegra 1979
Ghost of Sulla
Catiline Conspiracy 1978
Nightwatchman
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1978
Lentulus conspirator and senator
Catiline Conspiracy 1978
Prince Yamadori
Madam Butterfly 1978
Second Footman
Rosenkavalier 1978
Masetto a peasant, engaged to Zerlina
Don Giovanni 1979
Kuligin a friend of Vána
Kátya Kabanová 1979
Lazar Wolf the butcher
Fiddler on the Roof 1979
Prince Afron son of Dodon
Golden Cockerel 1979
Figaro a barber
Barbiere di Siviglia 1980
Cesare Angelotti former Consul, now a political prisoner
Tosca 1980
Ned Keene apothecary and quack
Peter Grimes 1980
Sharpless U S Consul in Nagasaki
Madam Butterfly 1980
Second Workman
Wozzeck 1980
Stagehand
Makropulos Case 1981
Zurga leader of the fishermen
Pearl Fishers 1981
Pearl Fishers 1982
Enrico Lord Henry Ashton
Lucia di Lammermoor 1981
Harašta a poacher
Cunning Little Vixen 1982
Ipparco Climene's brother, ruler of Zacynthos
Egisto 1982
Shishkov
From the House of the Dead 1987
Elijah
Elijah 1988
Bass
Elijah 1988
Priest
Dream of Gerontius 1989
Angel of the Agony
Dream of Gerontius 1989
Jaroslav Prus a Baron, Gregor's opponent
Makropulos Case 1993
Sir John Falstaff a knight
Falstaff 1993
Peter
Kingdom 1994
Filip the Burgrave (a police official)
Jacobin 1995
Escamillo a toreador
Carmen 1997
Don Alfonso a middle-aged bachelor
Così fan tutte 1998
Eumée a shepherd
Pénélope 2000
Baron Mirko Zeta Pontevedrian Ambassador in Paris
Lustige Witwe 2005
Prince Gremin a retired general
Eugene Onegin 2009
City Councillor
Adventures of Mr Brouček 2010
Wonderglitter a patron of the Arts (Čaroskvoucí)
Adventures of Mr Brouček 2010
Würfl landlord of the Vikárka inn
Adventures of Mr Brouček 2010
Narrator
Prigione di Edimburgo 2011
Dr Bloom
American Lulu 2013
Baritone
Carmina Burana 2014
Benoit the students' landlord
Bohème 2016
Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta
Bohème 2016
Antonio a gardener, Susanna's uncle
Nozze di Figaro 2016
Nozze di Figaro 2017
Voice of God
Noyes Fludde 2016
Hanezò a friend of Fritz
Amico Fritz 2016

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