Opthof, Cornelis

Cornelis Opthof. Baritone, b Rotterdam 10 Feb 1930, d Toronto 16 Dec 2008. Emigrating to Canada in 1949, Cornelis Opthof studied voice in Belleville, Ont, with Catharina Hendrikse, and 1957-9 on scholarship at the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM). In 1960 he was a CBC Talent Festival winner.

Operatic Roles
Opthof appeared with the Canadian Opera Company (COC) touring company 1957-64, making his COC mainstage debut as Alcalde in La Forza del Destino in 1959. His other roles for the main company of the COC included Marcello in La Bohème (1963); Valentin in Faust (1966, 1970); Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus (1964, 1969, 1975); Amonasro in Aida (1972, 1986); Germont père in La Traviata (1974); Scarpia in Tosca (1984, and video 1989); Michonnet in Adriana Lecouvreur (1987); the Music Master in Ariadne auf Naxos (1988); Sharpless in Madama Butterfly (1989); Baron Prus in The Makropoulos Case (video 1989); and Rambaldo in La Rondine (1990).

In 1967 Opthof created the role of Sir John A. Macdonald in Harry Somers'Louis Riel. Performances in 1964 at the Stratford Festival as the Count in The Marriage of Figaro under Richard Bonynge led to an Australian tour in 1965 with Joan Sutherland. He had many subsequent roles alongside Sutherland, including Germont père in La Traviata in Philadelphia in 1975 and a Metropolitan Opera debut 17 Mar 1976 as Riccardo in I Puritani. He was Yeletsky in the Festival Canada (Festival Ottawa) production of The Queen of Spades, and appeared in the Canadian premiere of The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies at the Guelph Spring Festival in 1986. Opthof sang with many other major Canadian and US opera companies, including the San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia Operas, as well as in Europe. He later concentrated on secondary roles in COC productions of Manon (1997); Madama Butterfly (1998, 2003); La Bohème (2000, 2005); Tosca (2003); Jenůfa (2003); and Rigoletto (2004). In 2008 Opthof appeared with the COC as the Priest in Leoš Janáček's The House of the Dead; the role marked Opthof's 50th year on the operatic stage.


Opthof's voice, described by New York Times critic John Rockwell as 'solid, a little throaty,' weathered advice, criticism, and praise, and was recognized widely for its extreme reliability and the useful extension at the top of its range. Cornelis Opthof is heard as Filippo on the London recording, with Sutherland, of Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda (1966, 3-Lon OSA 1384) and also on a recording of Schoenberg songs with Glenn Gould (Col M-31312).