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
  • Get to the point
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: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk