Ged Clapson
Ged Clapson

Blair Wilson: a remarkable talent, a dear friend

Blair Wilson 1957 - 1999

Between 1985 and his premature death in 1999, Blair sang with some of Britain's most prestigious opera companies: the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, English National Opera, Glyndebourne, and Pavilion Opera, with whom he made several international tours.


In the early 1990s, he expanded into musicals. When I met him in 1992, he was in the ensemble in Simon Callow's award-winning production of Carmen Jones. But within six months, he had taken over the leading role of Joe, not only at the Old Vic in London, but also on tour throughout Britain and Japan.


Blair was frequently called upon to perform in modern operas, concerts, oratorios, broadcasts and recordings. But his talent was not confined to classical roles. He played Eat Moe in the West End production of Five Guys Named Moe (photo below) and performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, both in Stratford-upon-Avon and the Barbican Theatre in London.


Vocal Variety
This recording of Blair shows his vocal versatility in a variety of musical styles. Sadly, it doesn't demonstrate his full operatic range.
Vocal variety.mp3
MP3 audio file [6.4 MB]

Blair died at the premature age of 41, as the result of complications following a renal operation. The world was a brighter, more musical place when he was in it. But more than this: Blair is also missed for his warmth and generosity, his loyalty to his friends and to his family, his wit and (usually wicked) sense of humour and his sense of style.


Following his death, the Blair Wilson Music Foundation was set up to honour his memory and to celebrate the life and music of a truly great friend and performer. Through the Scholarship Fund of the Royal College of Music, young talented singers at the Royal College of Music receive some financial support for their studies, and I am delighted that on 29 March 2012 - the 13th anniversary of his death - Oscar Castellino became the recipient of the Blair Wilson Award. Read more here.

Vissi d'arte

From Tosca - Giacomo Puccini:


Vissi d'arte, vissi d'amore,
non feci mai male ad anima viva!
Con man furtiva
quante miserie conobbi aiutai.

Sempre con fe' sincera
la mia preghiera
ai santi tabernacoli salì.
Sempre con fe' sincera
diedi fiori agli altar.

Nell'ora del dolore
perché, perché, Signore,
perché me ne rimuneri così?

Diedi gioielli della Madonna al manto,
e diedi il canto agli astri, al ciel,
che ne ridean più belli.
Nell'ora del dolore,
perché, perché, Signor,
ah, perché me ne rimuneri così?

English Translation:

I lived for art, I lived for love,
I never harmed a living soul!
With a discreet hand
I relieved all misfortunes I encountered.

Always with sincere faith
my prayer
rose to the holy tabernacles.
Always with sincere faith
I decorated the altars with flowers.

In this hour of grief,
why, why, Lord,
why do you reward me thus?

I donated jewels to the Madonna's mantle,
and offered songs to the stars and to heaven,
which thus did shine with more beauty.
In this hour of grief,
why, why, Lord,
ah, why do you reward me thus?

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