It has taken bad news in Australia to prod me out of lurking. The death has been reported here of Australian tenor Donald Smith who probably would be unknown to most subscribers. Don was born in country Queensland and sang in London in the early 60's. Because he loved Australia he returned to Sydney with the Australian Opera from 1966 when he sang a brilliant young Manrico in Trovatore and became part of the company in its move to the Sydney Opera House. There he sang marvellous performances of Radames, Don Jose , Gustavus, Dick Johnson, Cavaradossi etc He was the star of the company and his performances (and Sutherland's) were always sold out. His voice by then had become richer and all were looking forward to roles such as Otello when he retired through illness in 1980. His last performances were of I Masnadieri with Joan Sutherland, the only time the two sang a complete opera together. He moved to teaching where he was a respected figure in Brisbane.
Don's voice was a rich dramatic tenor with a Gobbi-like ability to make drama through the voice rather than just sing politely. This compensated for a casual stage manner. The voice said it all. He recorded a little for EMI but these do not capture the theatrical ring and the in-the-guts physicality of his singing. He participated in the first theatrical opera telecast in Australia in 1968 (Tosca with Collier and Tito Gobbi - one of the top Australian nights) and was 76 this year.
Although his career has been over for a while he is regarded here with equal respect to Sutherland but he did not have the ambition or drive to make the world career he should have had.
Less importantly about myself, I am just an opera lover specialising in learning more, finding the perfect performance and stealing the time to keep up with the operas I love and the ones I want to know better.
Regards to all KenR