Canadian Opera Company General Director Richard Bradshaw, previously associated with the San Francisco Opera for more than a decade, through 1988, died of a heart attack at Toronto’s Pearson Airport Wednesday evening. The English-born choral and opera conductor was 63.
In recent years, Bradshaw’s direction of Canadian Opera received worldwide acknowledgment as he headed the successful project to build Toronto’s first dedicated opera house, in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
Bradshaw conducted the full, four-opera cycle of Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen” in the new house when it opened last year.
Bradshaw began his work in San Francisco as chorus master for the 1977 “Adriana Lecouvreur,” “Aida,” as well as “Faust,” for which he was also the conductor. In the years that followed, he also served as resident conductor.
Bradshaw helped prepare productions and conducted hundreds of performances in the War Memorial, the last being a 1988 “Cosi fan tutte.”
Chorus members remember him warmly, recalling his numerous practical jokes, such as filling the Chorus’ water cooler jug with vodka for the opening night of a Russian opera.