Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Apr 4, 2015

William Dickie (Baritone) ( Belfast, Northern Ireland 1914 - ? 1984)

He was the elder brother of the great character tenor Murray Dickie (1924-1995). He spent most of his career at the Vienna State Opera, where he was succeeded by his son John (1953-2010), also a tenor. He began his singing career with Glasgow Grand in the mid-thirties, when, under Erik Chisholm's inspired direction, the company was achieving a reputation of national importance, giving British premieres of ‘’Idomeneo’’, ‘’Les Troyens’’ and ‘’Béatrice et Bénédict’’. His war service took him to Italy, where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and was also able to study with Titta Ruffo, Giuseppe de Luca and Gino Bechi. He joined Jay Pomeroy's New London Opera at the Cambridge Theatre (along with his brother Murray and the bass Ian Wallace) in 1947. His roles then included Schaunard, Rossini's Figaro and Marullo in ‘’Rigoletto’’. Having sung in Italy at the end of the war, he returned there occasionally. In 1956 he made his successful debut at the Vienna State Opera as Posa, singing in German. At his peak in the fifties he sang at Covent Garden. His roles at the Royal Opera House included Escamillo in a 1957 run of ‘’Carmen’’ opposite Jon Vickers as Don José, Regina Resnik as Carmen and Joan Sutherland as Micaëla. The conductor was Rafael Kubelik. A guest appearance with the Edinburgh Opera Company saw him sing the title role in ‘’Nabucco’’, with David Ward as Zaccaria, conducted by Alexander Gibson. A few weeks later he appeared as Amonasro in a concert performance of Aïda with the Liverpool Philharmonic and John Pritchard. He spent much of the following season with Welsh National, as Falke (‘’Fledermaus’’), Tonio (‘’Pagliacci’’) and Nabucco. From 1973 William Dickie was Business Manager of the Intimate Opera Company. Founded in 1930, it toured productions of small-scale chamber opera for many years, and commissioned a number of new pieces. Its repertoire included baroque and classical pieces by Purcell, Bach, Handel, Pergolesi, Duni, Arne, Dibdin, Carey, Storace and Mozart. The company also performed some later pieces by Offenbach, Chabrier, Wolf-Ferrari and Menotti. New works were specially composed by Antony Hopkins (‘’Three's Company’’, ‘’Hands across the Sky’’, ‘’Ten o'clock Call’’), Geoffrey Bush (‘’If the Cap Fits’’), Joseph Horovitz (‘’Gentlemen's Island’’, ‘’The Dumb Wife’’), and others.

Chronology of some appearances

1956 Vienna State Opera
1957 London Covent Garden


Parlophone 1947-11-07
Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini): Largo al factotum E11463 CXE 12424