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Graham Clark, 81, Tenor With a Rare Gift for Characterization, has Died

Tenor Graham Clark


Littleborough, England, November 10, 1941 — Reading, England, July 6, 2023

A TENOR WHOSE MUSICALITY and rare gift for characterization made him one of the most admired artists of his generation, Graham Clark worked as a physical education teacher before beginning his professional singing career. He made his debut at Scottish Opera in 1975 and joined English National Opera the following year, for the title role in the British premiere of Ginastera’s Bomarzo. Clark was a valued company principal at ENO ensemble from 1978 through 1985, taking on an astonishing range of roles, from Rossini’s Almaviva and Count Ory to Hermann in The Queen of Spades, Alexey in The Gambler and Albert Gregor in The Makropoulos Case. In 1986, Clark received an Olivier Award for his work as Mephistopheles in the ENO production of Busoni’s Doctor Faust. 

Clark made his U.S. debut at the Met in 1985, as Steva in an English-language performance of Jenůfa. Clark sang eighty-two times with the Met during his fifteen seasons on the company roster. Clark’s most notable Met performances were the fanatic Bégearss in the Met’s 1991 world premiere of John Corigliano’s Ghosts of Versailles, in which the tenor stopped the show with “The Aria of the Worm”; the Captain in Wozzeck, which he sang in the premiere of Mark Lamos’s 2001 production; Albert Gregor in the 1996 Met premiere of The Makropoulos Case; and his vivid, athletic Mime in Das Rheingold and Siegfried, both of which he sang he sang in complete Met presentations of the Ring, paced by James Levine. 

Clark made his Covent Garden debut in 1995, as Mime in Siegfried, and returned to the company for Captain Vere in Billy Budd, the Bishop of Budoja in Palestrina, the Captain in Wozzeck, the servants in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Valzacchi in Der Rosenkavalier, Sellem in The Rake’s Progress, the Shepherd in Tristan und Isolde and Antonic in From the House of the Dead. Clark was also a regular guest at the Bayreuth Festival, where he appeared annually from 1981 to 1992, singing more than 100 performances with the company.