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Charles Craig (1920 - 1997)

Charles Craig’s parents were shopkeepers, of whose large family he was the fifteenth and youngest. One of his elder brothers owned a few recordings, and Craig’s interest in opera was stimulated by listening to Caruso sing ‘Vesti la giubba’ from Pagliacci. On leaving school he worked at various jobs, in tailoring, as a warehouseman and as an assistant in his parents’ shop; but by 1943, while serving in the British forces, he was a member of the Army Entertainments Unit, singing in India.

After demobilisation Craig auditioned for the newly formed Covent Garden Opera Company in 1946. He was accepted for the chorus, but was heard in 1951 by Sir Thomas Beecham who, greatly impressed, offered to pay for further vocal tuition and associated living expenses. Craig studied with Dino Borgioli and made his début with Beecham at the Royal Festival Hall at the end of 1952 although, suffering from pneumonia, he made little impression. Short of money, he joined the Carl Rosa Opera Company, making his début as Rodolfo/La Bohème. Between 1953 and 1957 he toured extensively with this company, singing the title rôles in Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini and Gounod’s Faust, Don Ottavio/Don Giovanni, the Duke of Mantua/Rigoletto and Chevalier des Grieux/Manon Lescaut.




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