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Don Garrard (Bass)

Born: July 31, 1929 - Vancouver, Canada

The Canadian bass, Don Garrard, studied at Santa Barbara with Lotte Lehmann and later at the Toronto Royal Conservatory.

After a period as a principal with the Canadian Opera Company, Don Garrard undertook further studies in New York and Milan. In 1961 he joined Sadler's Wells Opera in London, with which he sang basso cantante roles in over 500 performances as well as appearing with Scottish Opera and the WNO. He took part in the English Opera Group premiere of Benjamin Britten's Curlew River in 1964, made his debut at Covent Garden in 1970 as Ferrando in Il trovatore and at Glyndebourne in 1973 in Der Besuch der alten Dame as Einem. In 1975 he appeared there as Trulove in The Rake's Progress, a role he had recorded under Igor Stravinsky. In Canada he has sung the Grand Inquisitor and Daland (1988-1989).

Don Garrard's secure technique, warmth of vocal feeling and genial character also brought him engagements around the world. In 1969 the Canadian press referred to him as “Probably, the greatest Bass ever to come from this country”. With that enviable position long since confirmed, his outstanding successes in Opera and Concert have taken him throughout Europe, Israel, North America (notably at Santa Fe), South Africa and Latin America.

Even the most selective program précis of Don Garrard's career, reads as a list of achievement hyperboles or statistical extremes. He has an astonishing repertoire of 120 Operatic roles, ranging from Boris to Bluebeard and Sarastro to Wotan, the last of which he pioneered in the English Ring. His is an International track record, whose common denominator has been global prominence among his contemporaries of the Lyric Stage, Concert platform, Television screen or recording studio. He has performed under the baton of a Who’s Who of the Worlds’ great Conductors: Georg Solti, Malcolm Sargent, Colin Davis, Bernard Haitink, Goodall, Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim, Lorin Maazel and James Levine, to name a mere handful.

Amongst Don Garrard's many distinctions are two World Premieres: B. Brittens’ Curlew River and Floyds’ Willie Stark; five National, two International Awards, including the Queens’ Jubilee Medal (1977) for “… outstanding artistic achievement” plus a review which summed him up as “Canadian and among the Worlds’ best!” Since 1989, his career took on more of a South African association with guest appearances for CAPAB in Lohengrin, Fidelio, Don Carlos, Flying Dutchman, Tristan and Magic Flute, as well as many Concerts.

A Cape Town review once said of his Messiah: “…If Michelangelo’s God on the Sistine Chapel ceiling was to burst into song, I imagine the voice would be something like Don Garrards”.

Source: Grove Music Website; New Voices Publishing Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (September 2001), Barbara Müller (January 2006)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Daniel Barenboim


BWV 243

Links to other Sites

Anecdotage by Don Garrard (New Voices Publishing)


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