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