Richard auditioned to Glyndebourne in 1947. He was now 33. Few British singers had sung at the house since its foundation in 1934 and even fewer British singers had sung  opera in the original language at that time.

 

Taken on by Glyndebourne – where he was to sing for over thirty years and which was his favourite opera house – he was free to learn his craft, work with the finest conductors such as Vittorio Gui, John Pritchard, Raymond Leppard, Fritz Busch as well as producers such as Carl Ebert, Peter Hall, and Günther Rennart.

 

His reputation was soon established. Among the first works he performed was Mozart's Idomeneo, a role he practically made his own, ideal for the darker sound in his lyric tenor voice.

 

There were also developments in his private life and in 19 he married Mary xxx, a flautist with the Halle Orchestra, and in 1952 they had a son, Michael.

 

Glyndebourne's finest

High points of his career at the time included, in 1952, a now classic Idomeneo with Sena Jurinac, Birgett Niilson and Leopold Simeneau, produced by Carl Ebert, which stands out as one of Glyndebourne's finest. Later Richard sang the role, near the end of his career, with Luciano Pavarotti at Glyndebourne and also later in Geneva too.

 

Other fine productions, legendary in Glyndebourne's history, featuring Richard included Cosi fan tutte; Stravinsky's Rakes Progress with Richard singing the first British stage performance at Glyndebourne; Beethoven's Fidelio (pictured, top) which Opera Magazine thought was “one of the finest Florestans they had heard”; Strauss' Ariadne ; Don Giovanni with Geraint Evans, Jurinac, Sutherland and Freni; Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea and also Il Returna d'Ullise with Janet Baker (and later with Von Stade).

 

In 1963 he was made Commander of the British Empire (pictured, right, outside Buckingham Palace on the day).

 

Top: Richard as xxFlorestan in Fidelio.
Above: Richard (left) as Florestan with Gre Brouwenstign as Lenore (second left) talk to Fidelio producer Gunther Rennert (third left) while Kim Borg as Don Pizarro looks on.

© 2013 The Richard Lewis Jean Shanks Trust