Grahame Clifford as Jack Point in The Yeomen of the Guard

Grahame Clifford (1939-46)

[Born Burnley, Lancashire 25 Dec 1905, died Auckland, New Zealand 26 Jan 1984]

Grahame Clifford, born Clifford White, was the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company's wartime replacement for Martyn Green, performing the comic baritone roles of General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance, Reginald Bunthorne in Patience, the Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe, Ko-Ko in The Mikado, Jack Point in The Yeomen of the Guard, and the Duke of Plaza-Toro in The Gondoliers from December 1939 to August 1946. He also played Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore and Robin Oakapple in Ruddigore until those operas were dropped from the repertoire in July and August 1940, respectively.

Educated at the Royal Manchester College of Music, Clifford appeared there in The Marriage of Figaro in 1928. After futher training at the Royal College of Music, London, his London Stage debut came in Handel's opera Julius Caesar at the Scala Theatre in January 1930.He appeared in grand opera on tour with the Carl Rosa Company from 1930 to 1932. For a period of time he gave up singing to produce plays and operas at the Westminster Theatre. He later returned to opera and was principal baritone with the Covent Garden Opera Company between 1937 and 1939, performing during the latter season with Richard Watson.It was Watson who reportedly convinced Clifford to audition with the D'Oyly Carte.

Clifford returned to grand opera in 1946, serving as principal baritone at the Royal Opera House from 1946 to 1952.He also sang and recorded Spallanzani in a British film version of The Tales of Hoffman, and in October 1952 appeared in a BBC television production of Pagliacci, in the role of Tonio.

He eventually returned to Gilbert & Sullivan, appearing on tour between 1956 and 1958 with the J. C. Williamson Company in Australia and New Zealand. In 1958 he took up residence in Dunedin, New Zealand, where he produced stage works for a variety of local and university dramatic and operatic societies. Clifford moved to Wellington in 1966. There he continued teaching and producing around the country, and did a bit of performing too--as Frosch in the New Zealand Opera Company's production of Die Fledermaus. His last Gilbert & Sullivan role was King Gama in the Dunedin Gilbert & Sullivan Society's 25th Anniversary production of Princess Ida in 1976. Clifford would make occasional film and television appearances into the 1980s. He retired to Auckland in 1981.

Page modified October 23, 2007 © 2001-07 David Stone