Garnet Brooks | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Garnet Brooks

Garnet Brooks. Tenor, (born 4 September 1937 in London, ON; died 21 July 2009 in Regina, SK). Brooks' voice studies began in his native city and continued 1960-4 in Toronto at the Royal Conservatory of Music, where his teachers were Mary Raze, Dorothy Allan Park, John Coveart and Douglas Bodle.

Tenor, b London, Ont, 4 Sep 1937, d Regina 21 Jul 2009. Garnet Brookss voice studies began in his native city and continued 1960-4 in Toronto at the Royal Conservatory of Music, where his teachers were Mary Raze, Dorothy Allan Park, John Coveart, and Douglas Bodle. He made his Canadian Opera Company (COC) debut in September 1963 as von Faninal's major-domo in Der Rosenkavalier. In 1966 he studied with Robert Weede in San Francisco. In 1967 a Canada Council travel grant enabled him to audition at opera houses in England, Germany, and Switzerland. He was a member of the Glyndebourne Touring Company in 1968 and sang 1968-9 with the Western Opera Theatre (the touring branch of the San Francisco Opera). With the COC Brooks performed Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. He also appeared in supporting roles in the premieres of Somers'Louis Riel and Wilson'sHeloise and Abelard. Garnet Brooks sang the title role in the premiere (Halifax, 1973) of Wilson's The Summoning of Everyman and repeated the role in the 1974 Stratford Festival production. At the Guelph Spring Festival he sang the title role in the North American premiere (1969) of Britten's The Prodigal Son and was the Shaman in the premiere (1977) of Derek Healey's production of the West Coast legend of the Tshimshiamtrib, Seabird Island. Brooks lived 1974-6 in Switzerland, singing at the Staatstheater of Bern, and was based 1976-82 in Vienna, singing there with the Salzburg Opera Company of Austria, in addition to performing with the Glyndeborne Opera of England and West German opera houses.

Returning to Canada in 1982, Brooks joined the University of Western Ontario to teach voice. While in London he appeared - as a singer and teacher - in "The Next Voice You Hear," a documentary on the human voice, produced by CFPL TV (CTV London, Ont.). Brooks moved to Regina in 1983 to teach at the University of Regina and to head the voice department of the Conservatory of Music there. He retired in 1997.

Brooks performed in oratorio, in recital, and on CBC radio and TV, including performances of Bach's St John Passion (Vermont 1973 and Regina 1987) and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1966. In 1988 he was Honey Man in the Calgary Opera Association's production of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess for the Olympic Arts Festival. He continued to perform, including occasionally with the Regina Symphony Orchestra, into the early 2000s. His voice has been described as a genuine high tenor, lyric rather than heroic, clear and vibrant in sound and effortlessly produced.

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