Anthony Raffell was working in Cape Town, South Africa, when he won a prize that enabled him to study at the South African College of Music. While there he played a variety of principal bass roles with the Cape Town University Opera Company. After a stint in the army, he worked with the Welsh National Opera Company and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra before joining the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company as a chorister in September 1961.
Anthony Raffel South-African baritone
During his first season with the Company he assumed the small bass parts of Bob Beckett in H.M.S. Pinafore and Giorgio in The Gondoliers, and in 1963 he added Second Yeoman in The Yeomen of the Guard and Guron in Princess Ida to his regular duties, as well. During the two seasons spanning 1961-63 he also filled in on occasion as Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance and Go-To in The Mikado.
In September 1963 he assumed the Foreman of the Jury in Trial by Jury and Samuel in Pirates, and in December of that year picked up the part of Sergeant Bouncer in Cox and Box. He was the regular Bouncer, Foreman, Beckett, Samuel, Guron, Second Yeoman, and Giorgio for the remainder of his D’Oyly Carte career. He left the Company briefly to appear with Glyndebourne Festival Opera as Johann in Massenet’s Werthur(May-July 1966), but returned in August to his old roles.
During his last four seasons (1963-67) he also substituted from time to time as the Usher in Trial, Dick Deadeye in Pinafore, the Pirate King and Sergeant of Police in Pirates, Colonel Calverlay in Patience, Arac in Princess Ida, the Mikado and Go-To in The Mikado, and Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard.
He married former D’Oyly Carte chorister Vivian Carman in March 1967. The marriage has since dissolved.
Raffell may be heard on the D’Oyly Carte 1964 recording of Trial by Jury (as the Foreman) and Utopia Limited excerpts (as Mr. Goldbury), the 1964 Yeomen of the Guard (as the Lieutenant of the Tower), and the 1965 Princess Ida (as Guron). He also sang excerpts from The Pirates of Penzance as Samuel on the Company’s 1965 “A Gilbert & Sullivan Spectacular.”
Anthony Raffell was one of several D’Oyly Carte artists to appear on a Reader’s Digest LP collection, “The Best of Gilbert & Sullivan,” in 1963. As Donald Adams was prohibited by contract from recording the roles he had recorded under D’Oyly Carte supervision, Raffell can be heard in this collection of excerpts as the Mikado in The Mikado and Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore.
In 1968, Raffell appeared with “Gilbert & Sullivan for All,” singing such parts as the Sergeant in Pirates and Pooh-Bah in The Mikado. He went on to sing with English National Opera and at Covent Garden. He moved to Germany in the 1980s, specializing in dramatic baritone roles. These roles took him to opera houses in Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, Vienna, Zurich, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Seattle, and New York, where he appeared at the Metropolitan Opera.
In July 2000 he returned to Gilbert & Sullivan, performing as Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard with Opera Holland Park.