Actors, Singers and Musical Personalities ~ t

1.  Ward

David Ward 1922 - 83

1.   David Ward 1922 - 83. Photograph ©

Born in Dumbarton, in July 1922. Ward was one of the outstanding bass singers of his generation, pursuing a successful career at home in Scotland throughout the world.  A vital presence in the early years of Scottish Opera, he had an effortlessly powerful, but attractively soft-grained voice, able to convey strong emotion. Unusually tall, he was easily able to dominate the stage, and was an ideal exponent of the major Wagner and Verdi bass and bass-baritone repertoire.

During the fifties Ward sang in Scotland during the annual Sadler’s Wells tours.  His roles included Dr Grenvil in La Traviata (1957) and Colline in La Bohème (1958). During the 1959 tour he sang Zuniga (Carmen), Don Fernando (Fidelio, conducted by a young Colin Davis), and Monterone in Rigoletto. He also returned to Scotland for appearances with amateur companies, including Zaccaria in Nabucco (Edinburgh 1957) and Méphistophélès in Faust (Dundee 1958).

His major appearances with Sadler’s Wells included the title roles in Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and Wagner’s Flying Dutchman. His Covent Garden debut followed in 1959, as Pogner (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), followed by Fasolt (Das Rheingold), Hunding (Die Walküre) and Morosus (The Silent Woman) by Richard Strauss.

At the recommendation of Rudolf Kempe he was engaged at the Bayreuth Festival in 1960-2, singing Fasolt, Titurel (Parsifal) and Nightwatchman (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg). He then studied the role of Wotan in Munich with Hans Hotter, who had been impressed by his potential.

When Covent Garden was directed by Georg Solti, Ward sang major parts. His Wagner roles included Heinrich (Lohengrin), Wotan and King Mark. His Verdi repertoire extended to King Philip (Don Carlos), Fiesco (Simone Boccanegra), Padre Guardiano (La forza del destino) and Zaccaria, Other roles with the Royal Opera included Sarastro, Commendatore, Don Basilio, and Rocco, as well as Arkel (Pelléas et Mélisande), Khovansky (Khovanshchina), the Grand Inquisitor (L'Africaine) and the Pope in Benvenuto Cellini, a role he sang with the company on its visit to La Scala in 1976.

He came to the Edinburgh Festival twice as a guest with visiting companies other than Scottish Opera – in 1960 with Glyndebourne (I Puritani with Joan Sutherland) and in 1968 with the Hamburg Opera as the Flying Dutchman.

He enjoyed an extensive international career, singing regularly in the USA, Germany and Italy. In 1967 he sang Wotan in five Ring cycles in Buenos Aires.

[This text draws on a biography published at Opera and other sources in the public domain.]



David Ward 1922 - 83

2.   David Ward as the Wanderer (Wotan) in the 1971 Scottish Opera production of Siegfried Photograph Production Photograph.  Photographer unknown, ©Scottish Opera

David Ward 1922 - 83

Tall and imposing, this Scotsman progressed in a decade's time from leading roles for lyric bass to the rigours of Wagner's Wotan. During the period in which Hans Hotter gradually withdrew from performances of Wagner's great creation, David Ward shared with the American baritone Thomas Stewart pre-eminence as Wotan, studying the role with Hotter and singing it under Hotter's stage direction.

One of many British Isles singers to benefit from Georg Solti's tenure as music director at Covent Garden, Ward found his association with the conductor a significant enhancement to his career. His full, rounded bass of attractive timbre never was fully at ease in the highest reaches of Wotan, but he compensated with his magisterial authority, smoothly managed legato, and biting enunciation. He was also a credible singer of Verdi's leading bass characters, as well as other French, German, and Russian roles for low voice.

In Chicago, Ward made a memorable Lyric Opera appearance as Bluebeard in Bartók's psychologically probing opera, his huge, hulking figure matching the grim darkness of his singing. San Francisco heard his Das Rheingold Wotan in 1967 and in 1969, Ward returned for Sarastro in a Die Zauberflöte, populated by several other singers from the United Kingdom, including Margaret Price, Stuart Burrows, and Geraint Evans.

Ward maintained a close relationship with the Royal Opera House until his retirement. Among his Wagner roles, Fasolt and Hunding gave way to Wotan, while his Sir Morosus in Strauss' Die Schweigsame Frau, was followed by his restrained and solicitous Arkel (recorded with Boulez), Rocco, Clement VII in Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini, Ivan Khovansky, and Don Basilio.

Ward made his mark with several Verdi characters, notably a tragic Fillip II, Fiesco, and Zaccaria. For the Scottish Opera, he sang an acclaimed Boris Godunov. He sang in Italy as well as Germany and America. His final performance at Covent Garden was as the Grand Inquisitor in Meyerbeer's L'africaine in 1978.

By the early '70s, Ward had achieved an interpretive fullness with his Wotan that begged comparison with the century's most respected exponents. His Wanderer (Siegfried), in particular, conveyed a sense of wry humour in resignation that was uniquely touching.

[This text draws on a biography by Erik Eriksson published at and other sources in the public domain.]



David Ward Anecdotes

Top  ~  Boris Godunov with Scottish Opera (1965)  ~  Fidelio at Sadler's Wells ~ Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden ~ David Ward and Bayreuth

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