Edmund Barham

22 March 1954 – 27 April 2008

Picture of Edmund Barham with Lisa Gasteen
Within 15 years, Barham progressed from Don Ottavio and Almaviva with Opera for All, to such roles as Don Alvaro for English National Opera; he even sang Otello. He had a fine ringing voice with splendid top notes, superb English diction and stylish phrasing.

Barham was born in London in 1952. He studied at Trinity College of Music and then at the London Opera Centre in the old Troxy cinema down the Commercial Road in the East End. While there he sang Toby in Robinson Crusoe, a couple of small parts in Alceste and the Male Chorus in The rape of Lucretia.

In 1980 he was engaged by the opera house in Wuppertal, where his roles included Lyonel, Turiddu, and Hoffmann.

In 1984 Barham moved to Munich, to the Theater am Gärtnerplatz, where he sang Lyonel again and the Marquis of Châteauneuf in Zar und Zimmermann. Then in 1985 he made his English National Opera debut at the London Coliseum as Jeník. This was followed by Turiddu, Narraboth, Pinkerton and Cavaradossi. In 1988 Barham sang with Opera North as Boris in Káťa Kabanová and José.

Back at the Coliseum, Barham sang his first Verdi role with the company, Gabriele Adorno. He also scored a personal success as Vakula the Smith in Christmas Eve. In 1989 he went to Lucerne to sing Maurizio. Returning to Opera North he sang Grigorij/Dmitrij.

For the next three years it was Verdi all the way. In 1990 Barham sang Alfredo and Macduff for ENO; the latter was toured to Moscow and Leningrad. Next he sang Foresto for Opera North, which took the production to Rotterdam. He sang his first Otello in Lucerne. He encompassed the music with impressive ease.

In 1992 ENO staged Don Carlo and La forza del destino; both were major successes. Barham sang the difficult role of Carlo with surprising delicacy. Alvaro suited him even better vocally, and was magnificently sung.

In 1993, after a splendid Enzo for Opera North, Barham headed for Australia, to sing his second Otello in Melbourne. This time, secure in the knowledge that vocally the part held no terrors for him, he sang it with much more dramatic commitment. The following year he sang Calaf in Turandot for Welsh National Opera, repeating the role at ENO in 1995.

Back in Australia he sang Cavaradossi in Brisbane, followed by his third and finest Otello. For Opera North in 1997 he took on another Verdi role – his ninth – Radames.

Though already ill with kidney failure and on dialysis, Barham continued to sing for a while. Verdi role number 10 was Arrigo in a concert performance given by the Chelsea Opera group in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1999; the 11th and last was Oronte, also a Chelsea Opera Group concert performance in 2001. He was in excellent voice for both.

Edmund Barham sings Rigoletto: La donna è mobile
In RA format

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