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date: 14 October 2019

Dawson, Peter locked

  • Alan Blyth

Extract

(b Adelaide, Jan 31, 1882; d Sydney, Sept 26, 1961). Australian bass-baritone. He studied at home with J.C. Stevens, then in England with Charles Santley, singing to him at an audition Handel’s ‘O ruddier than the cherry’, which became one of his calling cards over the next 50 years. Santley arranged Dawson’s first concert tour of Britain, with Emma Albani, in 1902, the event that was to launch his career. Apart from appearances as the Nightwatchman in Die Meistersinger during the Covent Garden season of English opera in 1909 under Richter, he favoured oratorio and concerts over opera, declaring the latter to be ‘too much work for too little pay’. However, he did not exclude opera from his recitals and practically always mixed aria with classical song and ballads in his programmes. Dawson described himself as a ‘singer of the people’ and believed it essential to communicate directly with his public; to this end he sang all his repertory in English, employing impeccable diction. His bluff, outgoing personality, strong, well-produced voice and faultless technique are reflected in his many recordings (spanning half a century), all of which arrest the listener with their immediacy of interpretation. He published an autobiography, ...

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