Opera Singer. A baritone, he followed his time on the principal operatic and recital stages of Europe with a long career as a teacher. Originally intending a career in medicine, he read physics at Brasenrose College, Oxford, but while there evidenced his vocal talent and later joined the choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, London. Hemsley made his 1951 operatic debut in as Aeneas from Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" opposite legendary Wagnerian Kirsten Flagstad at London's Mermaid Theatre. He bowed at Glyndebourne in 1953 as Hercule from Gluck's "Alceste" then spent the next 15 years with repertory companies in Germany and in Zurich, Switzerland. Over his years on the Continent he assumed about 150 roles large and small and was particularly noted for his portrayals of Guglielmo from Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte", the elder Germont of Verdi's "La Traviata", the Music Master from Richard Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos", Marcello from Puccini's "La Boheme", and Dr. Bartolo in Rossini's "The Barber of Seville". Hemsley's signature piece was probably Beckmesser from Wagner's comedic "Die Meistersinger", a part which he had recorded prior to singing it at Beyreuth between 1968 and 1970; he had returned to England occasionally, quite notably to sing Demetrius in the 1960 Adelburgh world premiere of Benjamin Britten's Shakespearean "A Midsummer Night's Dream". He was to make his December 2, 1970 Covent Garden debut in another world premiere, as Dr. Mangus in Sir Michael Tippett's "The Knot Garden" under the baton of Sir Colin Davis. A respected recitalist, Hemsley performed the works of composers ranging from Bach to Hugo Wolf, was praised for his interpretation of Schubert's "Wintereisse", and was for many years the premier exponent of Britten's "War Requiem". A company member with the Welsh National Opera from 1977 until 1985, he gave particularly noted performances as the title lead of Verdi's "Falstaff" with the Kent Opera in 1980. After leaving the stage he qualified as a homeopathic physician and practiced in his local community; a respected masterclass instructor and competition judge, he held a faculty appointment at the Guildhall School and in 1998 published a well received text entitled "Singing and Imagination". Hemsley was designated Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000 and died following a protracted illness. At his death a portion of his recorded legacy remained in print. (bio by: Bob Hufford)
Burial: Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend. Specifically: Ashes given to Dr. Hemsley's wife.
Maintained by: Find A Grave Originally Created by: Bob Hufford Record added: Apr 13, 2013
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