Sir Donald Conroy McIntyre was one of the noted bass-baritones of the second half of the twentieth century. He was a fine actor with a compelling stage presence and a full, rich voice that made him ideal for heroic baritone parts and one of the favorite Wagner singers of his time.
He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London during the last half of the 1950s and made a notable debut with the Welsh National Opera as
Zaccaria in Verdi's Nabucco. He joined the company of the Sadlers' Wells Opera in 1960, remaining with them until 1967. He developed a wide repertory there, singing over 30 roles including the part of Pennyback Bill in the first fully staged British production of Kurt Weill's Aufstieg und Fall des Stadt Mahagonny in 1963.
His Covent Garden debut was in 1967 as Pizarro in Beethoven's Fidelio, but he made his strongest early impression at Covent Garden that same year as Barak in Die Frau ohne Schatten, Richard Strauss' 1918 opera, which then was finally just beginning to establish itself in the repertory.
By then he had gained a considerable reputation as a beginning Wagnerian singer, and was asked to debut at Bayreuth in 1967 as the Telramund in Lohengrin. In 1973 he became the first British singer (as he was and is generally considered) to sing the role of Wotan in a complete cycle of the Wagner Ring des Nibelung operas at the Bayreuth Festival. He repeated the feat at Covent Garden beginning in 1974 with a Covent Garden Cycle that began that year with Colin Davis conducting, and debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 1975, again as Wotan.
In 1976, he starred in the Centennial production of the Ring at Bayreuth in the controversial production conducted by Pierre Boulez. It was videotaped and broadcast around the world, and was the first Ring to become available on home video on VHS tape and on LaserDisc, as well as being released on Philips LPs and compact discs.
McIntyre has appeared in major opera houses, including the Vienna State Opera, the Hamburg State Opera, the Munich State Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Sydney Opera House, and La Scala in Milan.
Among his other notable appearances are in the title role of Verdi's Attila, Kaspar in Weber's Der Freischütz, Golaud in Debussy's Pelléas und Mélisande, Amfortas in Wagner's Parsifal, Dutchman and Hans Sachs (Die Meistersinger). He was also a notable Shaklovity in Mussorgsky's Khovanschina, the sympathetic Captain Balstrode in Britten's Peter Grimes, Sarastro in The Magic Flute, John the Baptist in Strauss' Salome and Orestes in his Elektra, Escamillo in Carmen, Kurwenal in Tristan, Count des Grieux in Verdi's Traviata, and the arch villains Nick Shadow (Rake's Progress) and Baron Scarpia (Tosca). Many of these portrayals are available on compact disc.
He sang the world premiere performances of the role of Axel Heyst in Richard Rodney Bennett's opera Victory in 1960, and at the British premiere as Prospero in Luciano Berio's Un re in ascolto at Covent Garden in 1989. In 1996 he added the part of Baron Prus in Janacek's The Makropulos Affair at the Met.
He has received many honors. He was made a member of the Order of the British Empire in 1977 and a Commander of the British Empire in 1985. In 1992 Sir Donald MacIntyre was knighted on the New Zealand Honours List. Read less