Stuart Hamilton

(Robert) Stuart Hamilton. Pianist, coach, broadcaster, producer, b Regina 28 Sep 1929; ARCT 1950, honorary LLD (Dalhousie) 2008.

Hamilton, Stuart

(Robert) Stuart Hamilton. Pianist, coach, broadcaster, producer, b Regina 28 Sep 1929; ARCT 1950, honorary LLD (Dalhousie) 2008. He studied piano in Regina with Martha Summerville Allen and at the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCMT) with Alberto Guerrero and Weldon Kilburn, making a New York debut at Town Hall in 1967. He performed in 1968 in major Canadian centres and again at Town Hall before concluding his solo career with a concert in 1971 at London's Wigmore Hall. Thereafter he accompanied and coached many singers, including Isabel Bayrakdarian, Maureen Forrester, Ben Heppner, Rosemarie Landry, Richard Margison, Lois Marshall, Roxolana Roslak, and Mary Simmons. On occasion he accompanied Louis Quilico and Riki Turofsky. In 1981 he relinquished his position as the first musical director of the Canadian Opera Company's (COC) Ensemble program, to act as Marshall's accompanist on her farewell recital tour. In 1985 he became the host of the opera quiz on the CBC's "Saturday Afternoon at the Opera" broadcasts, and continued in this position in 2010. He also appeared as a frequent guest panelist on the opera quiz of the Metropolitan Opera 's Saturday broadcasts.

Hamilton initiated in 1974 the annual Opera in Concert series at the St Lawrence Centre in Toronto, acting as artistic director, producer, and accompanist. His aim was to use the large pool of talented local singers by offering opportunities to learn and perform rarely produced works. Normally presenting four operas each season, with the occasional double or triple bill, each opera was performed twice using alternate casts, in concert versions with piano. During Hamilton's term as general manager, over 300 singers presented more than 60 operas, many them Canadian or Toronto premieres. The operas performed have included Thomas' Hamlet (1974, 1977), Montemezzi's L'Amore dei Tre Re (1976, 1984), Bizet's Djamileh (1976, 1987), Verdi's Il Corsaro (1977) and Stiffelio (1978), Franz Schmidt's Notre Dame (1978), Weinberger's Schwanda the Bagpiper (1979), Weber's Der Freischütz (1980, 1990), Holst's Savitri (1981), D'Albert's Tiefland (1982), Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie and Mercadante's Il Giuramento (1983), Saint Saëns' Henry VIII (1985, 1991), Bellini's Il Pirata (1989), Rutland Boughton's The Immortal Hour (1991), and 12 Massenet operas: Cendrillon (1988), Le Cid (1991), Cléopâtre (1980), Don Quichotte (1978, 1986), Grisélidis (1983, 1991), Hérodiade (1976), Manon (1980), La Navarraise (1981), Sapho (1986), Thaïs (1985), Thérèse (1976, 1981), and Werther (1975). Although succeeded by Guillermo Silva-Marin as general manager in 1990, Hamilton remained artistic director until 1994.

Hamilton was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1985, and was the recipient of a Toronto Arts Award in 1989. In 1997 he began teaching at the University of Toronto. He continued to give lectures and master classes, and served as adjudicator for singing competitions across Canada, the USA, and overseas. On occasion he has provided narration for live opera productions. In 2000 he received the first Opera Educator Award (the Rubies), given by Opera Canada in recognition of outstanding achievement in the development of opera in Canada.


Further Reading

  • Enright, Jane. "Stuart Hamilton: unsung opera hero," Fugue, Aug-Sep 1978

    Kraglund, John. "Rare fare opens Opera in Concert," Toronto Globe and Mail, 20 Oct 1983

    Crory, Neil. "Something had to be done," OpCan, vol 25, Spring 1984

    Bogart, Marlene. "Werther's producer earned the Order of Canada for his contribution to Canadian music," The Lyric, Spring 1987

    Scott, Iain. "Stuart Hamilton: the genius behind Opera in Concert," OpCan, vol 28, Winter 1987

    Mérinat, Monika, "Stuart Hamilton: le maître.d'oeuvre d'Opera in concert," Aria, vol 13, summer 1990.

    Baker, Paul. "Opera in Concert's 25th," Opera Canada, Dec 1998

    - "Stuart Hamilton," Opera Canada, fall 2000