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Submitted by Matthew Barker

Bruce Dargavel
The singing voice of Coppelius, Dapertutto & Dr Miracle in The Tales of Hoffmann (1951)

I've managed to track down an article about Bruce Dargavel by Clifford Williams which appears in two journals:

1) Welsh music: Vol.8, no.8 (1988) p.33-41

2) Record collector [the classical music one, not the pop one!]: Vol.32 (1987) p.248-255

The following is a quick trot through his life.

Bruce lived from 1905 - 1985, and was born at Briton Ferry in South Wales. He joined the local male voice choir, and developed a great reputation for his voice in the local area. He joined the Carl Rosa Opera Company in 1930 which was the leading touring company in Britain at the time. He joined the Sadlers Wells company in 1935 in the chorus and assumed leading bass roles as his career progressed. Just before the war, he had a meeting with the tenor Beniamino Gigli who wanted him to appear with him in Italy, but the war put paid to that. After the war he appeared at Covent Garden, leaving to extend his concert and broadcast appearances. He was popular at Glyndebourne and the Edinburgh Festival, and in Europe.

A serious bout of pneumonia temporarily ended his career in the mid-1950s. With the enforced retirement, however, he recovered his voice, and carried on singing until a few years before his death in 1985 - his voice apparently in pristine condition!

He does not appear to have recorded a lot commercially - the Tales of Hoffmann soundtrack seems to be the only complete opera recording. (When are we going to get a CD release of this? Surely that enterprising gentleman Mike Dutton could do one of his wondeful transfers?) There are various songs recorded by Dargavel published, but I'm not sure these are currently available on CD. It might be possible to get the Glyndebourne "Ariadne auf Naxos" (he sang Truffaldin, which is not a big role), or "La forza del destino" where he sings Padre Guardiano conducted by Fritz Busch in 1951. Both of these would be live recordings, and would probably be on quite obscure or specialist record labels. He apparently did a lot of radio broadcasts which might become available. In 1984, the BBC broadcast a programme about him in their radio series, "Top of the bill".

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