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David Lloyd, Lake George Opera Festival Visionary, Dies at 92

By Mirror Staff

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

David Lloyd, a founding director of the Lake George Opera Festival (now known as Opera Saratoga) died at the age of 93 on February 8 in New York City.

A tenor who became famous for his roles in works by Benjamin Britten and Leonard Bernstein, “his most enduring contribution to opera in America may have been as General Director of the Lake George Opera Festival from 1962 to 1980, where he promoted opera in English and the development of young singers and actors,” said his son Tom Lloyd, who lives in Warrensburg. “He started the first Apprentice Artist Program with John Crosby in Santa Fe, produced world premiers of American works, and began the Contemporary American Opera Studio featuring new American Operas with Lake George artists and composers, while fostering the careers of hundreds of young performers.”

Lloyd was born in 1920 in Minneapolis, where his father, David Jenkins, founded Eclipse Electric Manufacturing (still in operation) and his mother, Louise Lupien Jenkins, was an organist for the First Church of Christ Scientist.

David Lloyd Jenkins was a graduate of Minneapolis College of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music. He served in World War II as a Naval aviator, flying with baseball great Ted Williams and the actor Robert Stack, among others.

As a Koussevitzky protégé at Tanglewood, Lloyd worked with Goldovsky, Caldwell and Bernstein. He was Benjamin Britten’s choice to play the title role in Albert Herring for the 1949 US Premiere and was a leading tenor with the New York City Opera from 1950 through 1958 and in later seasons as well. Lloyd’s recording of the Messiah with Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic remains the most popular version of that oratorio. He was a featured performer in many of the first operas ever televised.

A cover story in the March 1959 issue of Musical America is a testament to Lloyd’s prominence as a mid-century American tenor.

“Take any season’s schedules of major American musical organizations – symphony orchestras, festivals, opera companies, oratorio societies and recital series – chances are that the name of David Lloyd would turn up as a guest artist more than once. Last season, the young American tenor appeared in three different pairs of concerts with the Chicago Symphony. In additional to his solo recitals, a lengthy tour with the Concert Opera Group in Cosi Fan Tutte, and a session with the New England Opera Theatre in Puccini’s La Rondine, his tour includes performances with the Philadelphia and New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, and Nashville orchestras, and at the Washington Cathedral in oratorio. For the 1959-60 season, he is booked for appearances with a half dozen major orchestras, and he will tour trans-continentally with the Boston Opera’s production of Offenbach’s Voyage to the Moon. In Europe, he is well known at the festivals in Prades, Athens, Glyndebourne and Edinburgh … a small portion of the list of engagements that could be credited to his name. No less than seven recording labels identify the discs on which he can be heard – RCA Victor, Columbia, Vanguard, Boston, Unicorn, Mercury, and the Book of the Month Club,” the article stated.

According to Tom Lloyd, David Lloyd was present at the creation of the Lake George Opera.

“In 1962, he was in Colorado, performing with soprano Jeanette Scovotti. Jeanette had to leave Colorado and go back to New York, where she and her husband Fred Patrick were starting the Lake George Opera. She said something to David, David spoke to Fred, and by the next summer David had signed on as artistic director,” Tom Lloyd once recalled.

By the time Fred Patrick died at the age of 37 in 1965, David Lloyd had become the company’s managing director. Under his tenure, the Company gave its first contemporary and American operas, Menotti’s The Telephone in 1965 and Robert Ward’s The Crucible in 1966, and four world premiere productions: David Amram’s Twelfth Night and Robert Baksa’s Aria da Capo, both in 1968, The Child by Jose Bernardo in 1974, and Alva Henderson’s The Last of the Mohicans in 1977.

In 1964, the company moved to the Queensbury High School.

“The disadvantages were that it was a high school, with all the stigma attached to that,” said Tom Lloyd. “The advantages were that it was enormously accessible, classrooms could be used as rehearsal halls, there was plenty of parking and it had an 876-seat theater.”

Unlike today’s three week season, when two operas will be performed, Lake George Opera seasons in the 1960s extended for an entire summer and featured more than fifty performances of at least seven operas.

The Queensbury High School was meant to be a temporary home. Fred Patrick had dreamed of building a theater on Lake George, and working with officials in the administration of Governor Hugh Carey, David Lloyd nearly accomplished that feat.

“My Dad’s effort with Hugh Carey was inspired. He almost had the State ready to donate Green Island to the Opera when the Sagamore was in disarray. It would have become a real destination festival like Santa Fe if that would have happened,” said Tom Lloyd.

David Lloyd was also a renowned teacher. He held faculty and administrative positions with the State University of Iowa & West Virginia University in vocal instruction, Hunter College CCNY as director of the Hunter Opera Workshop, as Director of Opera at the Krannert Center University of Illinois, and at the Juilliard School of Music as Director of the American Opera Center.

Following his retirement from Juilliard, Lloyd served as Director of the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation, continuing his commitment to developing and funding careers of young artists. He also served on the board of the American Guild of Musical Artists as a lifetime member.

David Lloyd was predeceased by his wife of 54 years, violinist Maria Lloyd, his son, composer Timothy Cameron Lloyd, and his brother and sister William Jenkins and Amara. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Wilson Lloyd, and his son and daughter-in-law David Thomas and Theresa Treadway Lloyd, his grandson David Van Lloyd, as well as his nieces, nephews and their families.

A Memorial Service is in the process of being planned, the date of which will be announced. Donations in David Lloyd’s name may be made to the American Guild of Musical Artists or the International Essential Tremor Foundation (IETF).

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Lake George Opera

Lake George Opera's performance of The Bartered Bride, 1961

Lake George Opera Festival: Founded in Diamond Point 50 Years Ago, Company Changes Name to Opera Saratoga

By Anthony F. Hall

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

“Lake George is rich in musical history, having been home to Marcella Sembrich, Louise and Sidney Homer, among others, and by the late 1950s, people wanted to bring the magic back,” says Tom Lloyd, recounting the origins of the Lake George Opera.

Lloyd, the owner of Adirondack Studios, is the son of the Lake George Opera’s legenday director David Loyd, and was himself a technical director, artistic director and acting managing director  when he was still in his  20s.

Earlier this fall, Lloyd addressed a gathering of Lake George Opera supporters in Clifton Park, a kick-off to the organization’s  celebrations of its 50th anniversary.

Two weeks later, the company announced that it was changing its name to Opera Saratoga, severing its links to its origins on the shores of Lake George.

“For several years, the Company has considered a name change to reflect its permanent residency in Saratoga Springs. The Company has been producing opera at the Spa Little Theater for the past fourteen seasons and considers the lovely, intimate theater to be its home. The time has come, as the Opera celebrates the accomplishments of its history, to fully embrace its home and increase the public commitment to its community and surroundings,” a statement from the company said.

Lloyd acknowledged that he has mixed feelings about the change in names, but he concluded, “the organization should probably be named for the community that embraces it, and that seems to be Saratoga. Let’s hope it will lead to increased funding.”

For those who hoped that some way would be found to bring the  Lake George Opera back to Lake George, its 50th anniversary was to have been an occasion to re-affirm its historic links to the lake. Instead, its an occasion to reflect upon the past.

Tom Lloyd provided that retrospective in his talk to the Friends of the Lake George Opera in November.

Theresa Treadway Loyd as Carmen, 1991

In 1962, tenor David Lloyd was in Colorado, performing with soprano Jeanette Scovotti, both names huge in the world of opera.

“Jeanette had to leave Colorado and go back to New York, where she and her husband Fred Patrick  were starting the Lake George Opera,” said Lloyd. “She said something to David, David spoke to Fred, and by the next summer David had signed on as artistic director.”

Fred Patrick, born Frederick Susselman, was a baritone who had graduated from Julliard, where he had met Scovotti.

He was also a friend of Armand McLane, a singer who was familiar with Lake George and its musical associations, who believed that there was still an audience on the lake for opera.

Patrick may also have been familiar with Donald W. Johnston, who had started the Studio of Song in 1951.

“The Studio of Song didn’t make it, but Fred Patrick saw its amphitheatre in Diamond Point, and saw its possibilities,” said Lloyd.

Legend has it that the theatre, at the corner of Rt 9N and Coolidge Hill Road, was a building in total disrepair.  Patrick rebuilt it himself on summer weekends, when he wasn’t on tour or singing in New York.

Among the new company’s first productions was an English version of  “Carmen,” with a libretto by Patrick himself.

In fact, when the singer scheduled to perform the role of Escamillo fell ill, Patrick sang the role.

Reporting on the Lake George Opera’s first season, the New York Times called Patrick “a jack of all trades.”

“Mr. Patrick keeps his budget down by doing the chores himself. He feels that his company must be versatile. He plans an apprentice program, which should  help out backstage,” the reporter noted.

According to Tom Lloyd, the Lake George Opera’s versatility was its defining characteristic, and made membership in the company the valuable experience it was.

“The singers didn’t just sing, they they did everything, including costuming, lighting and set design,” said Lloyd. “Fred always had a handful of bus tickets, and if you weren’t willing to work, he’d hand you one and put you on a bus back to New York. He was so committed, and he expected you to be, too.”

That collective spirit informed the apprentice program envisioned by Patrick. By 1967, a young singer would be taking classes in the morning, painting sets in the afternoon, and applying her own make-up in the evening in preparation for a stage appearance. The program is now the second oldest of its kind in the country, and one of the most selective.

Equally important to the future of the company was Patrick’s vision of an American company performing operas in English.

David Lloyd and many others associated with the Lake George Opera had studied with Russian-born pianist, conductor, and stage director Boris Goldovsky at Tanglwood.

Goldovsky, explains Tom Lloyd, trained artists to be actors as well as singers.

“Like stage actors, opera singers needed motivation and characterization if they were to become good performers,” said Lloyd.

Singing in English made singers better actors, David Lloyd said in 1967.

When a singer knows that his words are understood, David Lloyd said, he works harder to make his gestures and expressions suit his language.

Fred Patrick died at the age of 37 in 1965. By then, David Lloyd was the company’s managing director. Under his tenure,  the Company gave its first contemporary and American operas, Menotti’s The Telephone in 1965 and Robert Ward’s The Crucible in 1966, and four world premiere productions: David Amram’s Twelfth Night and Robert Baksa’s Aria da Capo, both in 1968, The Child by Jose Bernardo in 1974, and Alva Henderson’s The Last of the Mohicans in 1977.

In 1964, the company moved to the Queensbury High School.

“The disadvantages were that it was  a high school, with all the stigma attached to that,” said Lloyd. “The advantages were that it was enormously accessible, classrooms could be used as rehearsal halls,  there was plenty of parking and it had an 876 seat theater.”

Unlike today’s three week season, when two operas will be performed, Lake George Opera seasons in the 1960s extended for an entire summer and featured more than fifty performances of at least seven operas.

The Queensbury High School was meant to be a temporary home. Fred Patrick had dreamed of building a theater on Lake George, and working with officials in the administration of Governor Hugh Carey, David Lloyd nearly accomplished that feat.

“My Dad’s effort with Hugh Carey was inspired. He almost had the State ready to donate Green Island to the Opera when the Sagamore was in disarray. It would have become a real destination festival like Santa Fe if that would have happened,” said Tom Lloyd.

It has been said that the Opera’s board of directors, then dominated by Glens Falls residents, vetoed the idea on the grounds that Bolton Landing was too remote to attract an audience.

In 1998, the company moved to the Spa Little Theatrer in the Saratoga State Park. where it will celebrate its 50th anniversary this summer with This summer, the newly-renamed company will celebrate its 50th anniversary with performances of two operas staged in Diamond Point in 1962.

And that, so far as we know, will be the last of the Lake George Opera Festival.

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