Obituary: Roderick Jones

Roderick Jones, singer, born Ferndale Glamorgan Gwent 2 June 1910, died Newport 16 September 1992.

Roderick Jones was a typical product of the Sadler's Wells Opera tradition, an honest, strong, no-nonsense singer who was willing to tackle, and made his mark in, a wide range of roles, serious and comic. He made his debut in the famous premiere of Peter Grimes on 7 June 1945. On that epoch-making occasion Jones created the role of Balstrode in Britten's opera. His typically bluff portrayal was just what the part needed. It remains a thousand pities that his performance and that of the rest of the cast was not recorded for posterity.

It was the beginning of a five- year period for Jones as principal baritone with Sadler's Wells during which he boxed the compass of roles. He became a great favourite with the loyal Rosebery Avenue public who liked to hear their singers in a variety of parts. His most famous and the one he performed most often was Scarpia to the Tosca of the even more popular Victoria Sladen. They struck sparks off each other and produced the true frisson of verismo opera, not to forget their faultless diction, a sphere in which their successors could well learn much from them.

Allied to his Scarpia was his tormented Rigoletto. Here his high, well-placed baritone also carried complete conviction as he expressed the hunchback father's predicament in clear and confident fashion. He was also a strutting, attractive Escamillo, a sympathetic Marcello and a vicious Tonio. So it surprised many in the company that he also evinced a gift for comedy. He proved a wise old Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte and a properly ludicrous Belcore in the company's initial performances of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore. When pure lyricism was called for he was also able to deliver the goods - as in the part of the upright Valentin in Faust. Other notable portrayals, these in out-of-the-way works, were the title-roles in Vaughan Williams's Sir John in Love (a Falstaff opera) and in Weinberger's Schwanda the Bagpiper. His strong sense of character was also present as the Sergeant in Hugh the Drover, a memorable portrayal opposite James Johnston's eloquent Hugh.

In 1951, upon the formation of the Welsh National Opera, he was true to his roots. After making his debut with the company as Tonio, he took part in two seminal Verdi productions of then-neglected works, playing the forceful father Montfort in The Sicilian Vespers and the tortured ruler of the title in Nabucco. These underlined his gifts as a singing-actor, one to whom the text was quite as important as the singing. Sadly the record companies overlooked his talents and there are few mementoes of his appreciable art.

The son of a miner, he left the pits to study at the Royal Academy of Music, first piano then voice. The war broke into the start of his career. After service in the Royal Navy, he was spotted by Joan Cross, ever on the look-out for new talent, who engaged him for Sadler's Wells, of which she was then director. His Balstrode was the result.

In the late 1950s his career rather petered out, although he was occasionally heard on Third Programme productions of operas. In 1961 he became director of the Jamaica School of Music but returned to Wales in 1970 as a teacher at Aberystwyth University College.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific