The English singer Derek Hammond-Stroud has died; he was 86. A noted interpreter of Gilbert and Sullivan, he also excelled in roles that called for exquisitely nuanced acting such as Faninal (Der Rosenkavalier), Alberich (Der Ring) and Beckmesser (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg). He was also a fine Lieder singer.
Hammond-Stroud was born in London and studied at Trinity College of Music in London and, abroad, with two of the great Lieder singers, Elena Gerhardt and Gerhard Hüsch. He made his debut in 1955 in a concert performance of Haydn's Orfeo ed Euridice, making his stage debut in 1957 at Publio in La Clemenza di Tito.
He joined the Sadler's Wells company where his roles included Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Dr Bartolo (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Melitone (Rigoletto) and also started to make a name as a superb actor-singer in G&S: he was outstanding as Ko-Ko in The Mikado. His crystal-clear diction and vivid acting skills (both verbal and visual) that shone in G&S set him in good stead for characters by Wagner and Strauss. He was a Proms regular, appearing over 30 times in the 20-year period from 1968.
He made his Covent Garden debut in 1971 as Herr Faninal, the arriviste father of Sophie, in Der Rosenkavalier and the role took him around the world - to the Met, Buenos Aires and Munich. His Alberich in Wagner's Ring – conducted by Reginald Goodall at ENO and enshrined on disc – was seized on by Gramophone's Alan Blyth (4/92) for its 'formidably articulate and power-hungry' nature. He appeared in the TV premieres of Walton's The Bear and Façade.
A recording of Schubert's Winterreise, made live at Wigmore Hall in January 1979 with the pianist Geoffrey Parsons, was released on Exegete Recordings and a Schubert collection on Symposium drew from AB (1/90) the comment that 'the baritone has been at pains to emphasise the importance of clear and meaningful diction; indeed he has regarded it as a sine qua non for any reputable singer so it's hardly surprising to find words playing such a vital part on this disc'.
He was a fine teacher and received honorary titles from both the Royal Academy and Trinity College, and in 1987 was made an OBE.