Obituary: Graeme Matheson-Bruce

ELIZABETH FORBES

Graeme Matheson-Bruce, opera singer: born Dundee 1945; died London 12 February 1994.

NOBODY could deny that the Scottish tenor Graeme Matheson-Bruce had tremendous courage. He tackled heroic and romantic roles such as Parsifal, Lohengrin, Florestan, Radames and even Otello, with a voice and physique more suited to character parts. A superb Bob Holes in Peter Grimes, he also sang the title-role of Britten's opera with great success. His real strength lay in contemporary music: as the High Priest in Philip Glass's Akhnaten, as Lovelace in the world premiere of Robin Holloway's Clarissa (1990), he was in his element, the somewhat ungrateful tone of his voice forgotten, the security of his singing paramount.

Born in Dundee, Matheson- Bruce studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and the London Opera Centre. In 1978 he was awarded a travelling scholarship by the Royal Society of Arts and went to Munich to study with Hans Hotter. He had already appeared at Glyndebourne (1975) as the Gnat in The Cunning Little Vixen, and with Glyndebourne Touring Opera as Sellem in The Rake's Progress. He had also begun a long association with English National Opera, for whom his roles included Loge in The Rhinegold, Walther in The Mastersingers, a drunken Cossack in Mazeppa, Florestan, the Prince in Rusalka, Lovelace, Bob Boles and Peter Grimes.

He sang the title-roles of Dvorak's Dimitrij at Nottingham University in 1979 and Pfitzner's Palestrina for Abbey Opera in 1981, both British premieres. During the 1980s he appeared frequently in Europe, where his repertory included Werther, Parsifal, Peter Grimes, Herman in The Queen of Spades, Gabriele Adorno, Radames, Don Jose and Hoffman. He also sang in the United States, as Herod and Florestan and as Erick in Der fliegende Hollander.

During the 1991/92 season he sang Sergei in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at Hamburg State Opera and created Pentheus in John Buller's The Bacchae for ENO. The latter role displayed his mastery of difficult contemporary music to an even greater degree than had Lovelace in Clarissa. He returned to Glyndebourne in summer 1992 to sing Tchekalinsky in a new production of The Queen of Spades, repeated in semi-staged concert form at the Proms in the Albert Hall.

In April 1993 he sang Herman in Tchaikovsky's opera for ENO. Although his vocal performance lacked the ideal romantic melancholy for that role, his interpretation of the character was excelllent, especially in the final scenes where Herman's obsession with gambling turns to madness.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project