Richard Lewis

10 May 1914 Manchester – 13 November 1990 Eastbourne

Picture of Richard Lewis with family

Richard Lewis sings Judas Maccabaeus: Sound an alarm!
In RA format

At age 16, he started working at a textile factory; soon, he took private voice lessons with Norman Allin after work. He had hardly made his debut as Almaviva with the Carl Rosa Opera Company when the Second World War broke out; he was drafted and had to serve the entire war; during all that time, he only had the chance to sing a few concerts in Belgium. Demobilized at the end of 1945, he could commence his career only now.

So far, he still went by his rather unlikely real name, Thomas Thomas. On the advice of Allin, with whom he continued to study, he finally chose a less hindering one: Richard after his favorite tenor, Richard Tauber; Lewis had been his mother's maiden name. For two seasons (1947–49), he was part of Benjamin Britten's English Opera Group, making his Covent Garden debut in 1948 in The rape of Lucretia, and his Glyndebourne debut the same year; he left Britten's enterprise because he was always secondary to Peter Pears there, but remained a Britten specialist throughout his career. He remained closely associated with the Glyndebourne Festival for more than 30 years, and with Covent Garden, as well. From 1955, he also sang often in San Francisco. Further guest appearances: Vienna Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Paris Opéra, Boston, Chicago. Other than opera, he did also a lot of concert work. He sang until 1983. Already from 1975, he also worked as a conductor.

His operatic repertory included many contemporary works as well as Hoffmann, Alfredo, the Simpleton, Massenet's des Grieux, Jeník, Pinkerton, Don José, Don Ottavio, Tamino, Herodes, Eisenstein.

Reference 1: Richard Lewis Trust, reference 2, reference 3: Kutsch & Riemens

I would like to thank Daniele Godor for the picture.
I wish to thank Tom Silverbörg for the recording.

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