Obituary: Sir Geraint Evans

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Geraint Llewellyn Evans, opera-singer, born Cilfynydd Mid Glamorgan 16 February 1922, Principal Baritone Royal Opera House Covent Garden 1948-84, CBE 1959, FGSM 1960, Kt 1969, FRNCM 1978, FRCM 1981, FRSA 1984, author of Sir Geraint Evans: a knight at the opera (with Noel Goodwin) 1984, married 1948 Brenda Evans Davies (two sons), died Aberystwyth 19 September 1992.

IT WAS Geraint's eyes that told you everything there was to know about him, writes Cliff Morgan. Eyes have one language - everywhere. Sitting or standing with him at a rugby match you were conscious of the fact that they were the same eyes that look out at you from photographs and paintings of Falstaff and Leporello and other characters from opera that he performed with style and magical animation.

On many a bitterly cold afternoon, a muffler to protect his throat and a big cap to keep his head warm, he would thrill at the sight of Gerald Davies running at speed and with the grace of a Margot Fonteyn and there would be wonder in his eyes and then, suddenly, disbelief as a Welsh forward would drop the ball with the line at his mercy. His eyes would flash in anger as a referee awarded a penalty kick against Wales under the posts, but they would sparkle again as Gareth Edwards, the supreme performer, scored a try that made the heart leap and bring a Triple Crown to Wales.

But, more than anything else, there was love and understanding in his eyes as he made you feel that you were the only person he wanted to be with. He would tell tales, breathe fire, define the rights of man, sing an aria or score a memorable try in memory or in actual fact. His expressions at moments like this suggested indestructability, and prompted all the ecstasy of a religious revival.

Why did he stand apart from all the problems that seem to haunt many of those who live in the world of entertainment? He was reared in the Rhondda Valley, where existence was carried on pretty near the knuckle and where music and rugby and Sunday school touched and influenced the humblest and the most powerful: and where mothers taught how to cope with the joys and tribulations that come with success. Geraint Evans - a man of many parts, and perfect at them all - was able to go everywhere without compromising his real identity or his rich Welsh accent, to achieve a fame that reaches far beyond Offa's Dyke.

The breadth of his life has touched the world through his masterful performances on stage, and he will be remembered by them. For the Welsh nation, and for those who cared for him, the memories are as sweet as the wild honey of The Mabinogion.

(Photograph omitted)