THE D'OYLY CARTE OPERA COMPANY
|Donald Adams as the Mikado of Japan in The Mikado|
Donald Adams (1951-69)
[Born Bristol 20 Dec 1928, died Norwich 8 Apr 1996]
Educated at the Bristol Cathedral School, Charles Donald Adams made his professional debut as an actor with the BBC Repertory Company in 1944. After serving in the Army, he returned to repertory and then to pantomime and music-hall. It was the music-hall star Arthur Lucan who urged Adams and his booming bass voice to audition for the D'Oyly Carte in 1951. He was hired that year and promptly assumed the roles of Bill Bobstay in H.M.S. Pinafore, Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, Second Yeoman in The Yeomen of the Guard, and Antonio in The Gondoliers. Late in that season, he gave a single trial performance in Brighton as Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore.
In the chaotic 1952-53 season, he took over Captain Corcoran, while retaining Samuel, Second Yeoman (shared with Jeffrey Skitch), and Antonio. He also filled in between October 1952 and January 1953 for the ailing Alan Styler as Cox in Cox and Box, the Counsel in Trial by Jury, and Archibald Grosvenor in Patience, and gave one performance in February 1953 as Old Adam Goodheart in Ruddigore as well. Beginning in February 1953 he appeared regularly as the Lieutenant of the Tower in The Yeomen of the Guard.
That season, he also performed, on occasion, the roles of the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, Colonel Calverley in Patience, the Earl of Mountararat in Iolanthe, the Mikado of Japan in The Mikado, and Sir Roderic Murgatroyd in Ruddigore.
With Darrell Fancourt's retirement at the end of the 1952-53 season, Adams took over the principal roles of Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore, the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, Colonel Calverley in Patience, the Earl of Mountararat in Iolanthe, the Mikado of Japan in The Mikado, Sir Roderic Murgatroyd in Ruddigore, Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard, and Arac in Princess Ida (when that opera was reintroduced for the 1954-55 season).
He held these roles until he left the Company in 1969, and also played Sergeant Bouncer in Cox and Box from September 1961 (replacing George Cook) through December 1963 (when the role was assumed by Anthony Raffell).
During his years with the D'Oyly Carte he recorded Sergeant Bouncer in Cox and Box (1961), the Usher in Trial by Jury (1964), the Notary in The Sorcerer (1953), Sir Marmaduke in The Sorcerer (1966), Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore (1960), the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance (1958 and 1968), Colonel Calverley in Patience (1961), Mountararat in Iolanthe (1960), Arac in Princess Ida (1955 and 1965), the Mikado in The Mikado (1958), Sir Roderic in Ruddigore (1962), Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard (1964), and King Paramount in Utopia Limited (1964 excerpts). He also appeared in the title role in D'Oyly Carte's 1966 film of The Mikado and as the voice of Sir Roderic Murgatroyd in the Halas & Batchelor cartoon version of Ruddigore.
Donald Adams was one of several D'Oyly Carte artists to appear on a Reader's Digest LP collection, "The Best of Gilbert & Sullivan," in 1963. Prohibited by contract from recording the roles he had recorded under D'Oyly Carte auspices, Adams can be heard in this collection of excerpts as Ko-Ko in The Mikado, the Sergeant of Police in The Pirates of Penzance, Private Willis in Iolanthe, Don Alhambra in The Gondoliers, and Reginald Bunthorne and Major Murgatroyd in Patience.
In 1969, Adams left the D'Oyly Carte. He was then able to turn his full attention to Gilbert & Sullivan for All, a company he, along with Norman Meadmore and Thomas Round, had founded several year earlier. That Company toured the British Isles, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and the Far East, and recorded versions of nine of the operas. Adams appeared in all of them: as Cox in Cox and Box, the Usher in Trial by Jury, Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore, the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, Mountararat in Iolanthe, the Mikado in The Mikado, Sir Roderic in Ruddigore, Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard, and Don Alhambra in The Gondoliers.
During his Gilbert & Sullivan for All years, Donald Adams found time to participate in two recording sessions, in Los Angeles and London, of less well known Sullivan music. He appeared as W. S. Gilbert on tour with Thomas Round in Tarantara! Tarantara!, Ian Taylor's musical about the Gilbert & Sullivan partnership, and, again with Round, recorded a musical documentary, "The Story of Gilbert & Sullivan," written by Dr. Thomas Heric.
In 1982, he appeared in three of the Brent Walker G&S television productions as Sir Marmaduke in The Sorcerer, Colonel Calverley in Patience, and Sir Roderic in Ruddigore. It was about this time that he began his transition into the world of grand opera. After singing Alfred Doolittle in My Fair Lady for Scottish Opera and the Mikado in the Peter Sellers version of The Mikado in Chicago in 1983, he appeared in The Merry Widow and Lulu, before making his Covent Garden debut later that year as a Frontier Guard in Boris Gudunov. He appeared with English National Opera in 1985, and at Glyndebourne in 1988. Engagements in Amsterdam, Geneva, Los Angeles, Toronto, and San Francisco followed. He appeared repeatedly with ENO and Welsh National Opera, and returned to both Glyndebourne and Covent Garden. He continued to record and was a mainstay in Charles Mackerras' Welsh National Opera Gilbert & Sullivan series, begun in 1992, singing the title role in The Mikado, the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore, and Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard.
The month before his death, in April 1996, he had appeared in ENO's revival of Donizetti's Don Pasquale, and he had been looking forward to performing in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream with the Metropolitan Opera in New York in the fall of 1996.
Donald Adams was married to D'Oyly Carte principal soprano Muriel Harding in 1952. She died in 1990.
|Page modified April 11, 2006||© 2001-06 David Stone|