Born: April 19, 1892 - Norland, near Halifax, Yorkshire, England
Died: September 6, 1949 - Hampstead, (London, according to Baker’s), England
Walter Widdop, the great operatic tenor, a Yorkshireman, was one of the best british tenors in the years between the wars.
Walter Widdop began singing in a local church choir, later joining the choir of the St James’s Church, Halifax. Widdop lived in Halifax until he was established as a singer. It was not until early manhood that Widdop had any thought of becoming a professional singer, on one occasion when asked to sing in a church he said ‘Oh I can’t sing.’ A friend replied, ‘Tha can but tha doesn’t know it.’ On another occasion whilst working in a Bradford dyehouse, a burly navy who heard him singing remarked: ‘If I’d thy voice and my brains I’d mak some brass.’
Having once realized his latent talent, Walter Widdop sent every penny he could spare in developing his voice, and began his studies under Arthur Hinchcliffe. His ambition was to become an opera singer, and he used to get up at 3a.m. to study and practice. After short studies with Dinh Gilly his debut took place as Radames (Aida) in 1923 at the British National Opera in Leeds. The following year he made his debut as Siegfried at Covent Garden.
Walter Widdop soon established himself as one the world’s best-known tenors, and during the Second World War he brought pleasure to thousands of servicemen during tours of South Africa and Canada and on an Ensa tour of the Middle East. Now he became the best english Wagner tenor of his time. He made guest appearances for example in Lisbon and gave concerts in North America. He was also a very successful oratorio singer, namely in roles of George Frideric Handel.
Walter Widdop's fine, steady voice always showed a lyrical style, also in his Wagner's roles. He made many recordings for HMV. Hear him with Siegmund's love song Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond from Wagner's Walküre, recorded 1928 in London.
Walter Widdop's last important enagement in London was in July 1949, when he sang the lead in Parsifal for Sir Adrian Boult at the Royal Albert Hall. The night before he died he sang Lohengrin's Farewell at a London Promenade concert.