Alexander Gray

Alexander Reid Gray, operatic baritone, teacher, administrator (born 31 March 1929 in Lachine, QC; died 6 October 1998 in Victoria, BC).

Alexander Reid Gray, operatic baritone, teacher, administrator (born 31 March 1929 in Lachine, QC; died 6 October 1998 in Victoria, BC). Alexander Gray was a prominent baritone who performed with the Canadian Opera Company for 16 years, as well as at the Stratford Festival and on radio and television with the CBC. He was the founding artistic director of the Southern Alberta Opera Association (now the Calgary Opera) and headed the opera division at the Banff School of Fine Arts (now Banff Centre for the Arts) from 1978 to 1984. He also taught at the University of Calgary from 1971 to 1994.

Education

Gray made his stage debut at age 17 as Silas Simkins in Merrie England. In 1947–48, he studied voice with Merlin Davies and piano with Mary Bennett at the McGill Conservatory (see Music at McGill University). He also studied with Ernesto Vinci at the Royal Conservatory of Music (1950–55) and with Boris Goldovsky in New York.

Career Highlights

Gray performed with the Canadian Opera Company for 16 years (1955–71) in a wide variety of roles, including Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1960), Sharpless in Madama Butterfly (1962, 1964 and 1971), Guglielmo in Così fan tutte (1963), Beauchemin in The Luck of Ginger Coffey (1967), and Lescaut in Manon Lescaut (1975). He performed in touring productions with the Banff School of Fine Arts (now Banff Centre for the Arts) in 1957–58, in Stratford Festival productions (1959–62), with the Goldovsky Opera Theatre 1962–67, with the Edmonton Opera Association in 1968 (Escamillo in Carmen), and, as leading baritone, with the Kiel Opera in Germany (1969–71).

His performances in a wide range of roles include some 250 as Figaro in The Barber of Seville and over 200 as Marcello in La Bohème. He also sang on CBC Radio and appeared in CBC TV productions of H.M.S. Pinafore (1960), Elektra (1961), Otello (1962), The Gondoliers (1962), and Rigoletto (1965). Later roles included the Jailer in the 1976 Guelph Spring Festival production of Britten's The Beggar's Opera. In 1986, he and wife Joyce Hill, a dancer with the National Ballet, launched a self-financed production of The Sound of Music at Calgary’s Jubilee Auditorium.

Career as Educator

Gray was Ernesto Vinci's teaching assistant at the University of Toronto in 1965–66 and taught at the University of Calgary from 1971 to 1994. He was head of the musical theatre division of the Banff School of Fine Arts in 1975, and headed the opera division there from 1978 to 1984. He also founded and was artistic director of the Southern Alberta Opera Association (now the Calgary Opera) from 1972 to 1975.

A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.


Further Reading

  • “Southern Alberta Opera Association,” Opera Canada (December 1975).

    Brian Hogarth, “Banff Opera School: A New Philosophy On an Old Art Form,” PfAC, vol. 21 (Fall 1984).