Archie Drake, Longtime Seattle Opera Bass-Baritone, Dies at 81

Classic Arts News   Archie Drake, Longtime Seattle Opera Bass-Baritone, Dies at 81
Seattle Opera bass-baritone Archie Drake died on May 24 at 81, only a few days after appearing in the company's Macbeth, the company announced.

Drake, known throughout the Pacific Northwest as Archie, made his debut with the company in 1968. He sang 109 roles in more than 1,000 performances over 39 seasons.

Last season during an 80th-birthday celebration for the singer, Seattle Opera general director Speight Jenkins called Drake the "soul of Seattle Opera—with the amazing longevity of his voice and his enormous stage presence, the variety of his accomplishments cannot be equaled by anyone else in his voice category."

Drake's mainstage roles with Seattle Opera included Candy in the 1970 world premiere of Carlisle Floyd's Of Mice and Men, Wotan in Wagner's and three roles in Prokofiev's War and Peace. He recently sang in Boris Godunov, Tosca, Fidelio, and Madama Butterfly.

A descendant of a brother of Sir Francis Drake, Archie was born in 1925 in Norfolk, England, and became a sailor at 15. He served as a deckhand in the merchant navy during World War II.

While working onshore in Vancouver in the 1950s, Drake joined a local choir and was recommended to Lotte Lehmann at the Music Academy of the West. She encouraged him to audition and he made his San Francisco Opera debut in 1968 as Rambaldo in Puccini's Rondine. That same year he was asked to appear in the Seattle Opera's 1968 production of Fidelio; he was offered a contract as a permanent member of the company the next year.

Drake died of a massive coronary, according to Seattle Opera.

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