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Thomas Stewart

During a poor and unhappy childhood, Stewart turned to singing which he later recalled ‘gave me an identity’. He studied electrical engineering at Waco, Texas, before moving to New York to study at the Juilliard School with Mack Harrell, making his operatic stage debut as La Roche / Capriccio in the first American performances of this opera at Juilliard in 1954. During the same year he appeared with the New York City Opera in various small roles and as the Commendatore / Don Giovanni; and with the Chicago Lyric Opera as Baptista / The Taming of the Shrew (Vittorio Giannini), Raimondo / Lucia di Lammermoor and Angelotti / Tosca. In 1955 he married Evelyn Lear, a fellow student at Juilliard.

Roles became hard to come by and by 1956 Stewart was ready to give up singing professionally. He was about to take a post with IBM when he and his wife learnt that they had been awarded Fulbright scholarship to study in Berlin from 1957. Within a few weeks of their arrival in Germany he was contracted to the Berlin Städtische Oper (later the Deutsche Oper) making his debut as The Minister / Fidelio in 1957. His roles with this company, of which he was a member until 1964, included Golaud / Pélleas et Mélisande, Orfeo / Orfeo ed Eurydice (Gluck), Escamillo / Carmen and, in two notable world premieres, William in Boris Blacher’s Rosamunde Floris and Jupiter to Lear’s Alkmene in Klebe’s opera of that name.




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