Richard Margison

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“Richard Margison gave the audience exactly what they wanted – ringing top notes and lots of excitement.” (Opera Now)

Hailed for his ringing top notes and spine-tingling power, Canadian tenor Richard Margison is renowned for his interpretations of Verdi, Puccini, Strauss and Beethoven. He regularly performed in many of the world’s leading opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, the Canadian Opera Company, the ROH Covent Garden,  the San Francisco Opera, the Théâtre Royale de la Monnaie in Brussels, the Sydney Opera and the Grand Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona.

Recent seasons have included performances of Un Ballo in Maschera (Montréal, Hamburg, the ROH Covent Garden), Turandot (New York, Barcelona, Toronto), Aida (New York, Cincinnati, Montréal, Chicago, Oviedo), Ariadne auf Naxos (Oviedo, Madrid, London, Hamburg, New York), Fidelio (Seattle, Vancouver), Il Trovatore (New York, Toronto, Berlin, San Francisco), La Gioconda (Barcelona) and Don Carlo (New York) and Norma (Vancouver), the world premiere of Rattenbury, The Opera in Victoria, Salomé (Toronto).

A much sought after concert artist, Richard has appeared with the Royal Philharmonic in London, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and at the Ravinia Festival.  He performed with Bryn Terfel at his opera gala at the Faenol Festival in Wales and developed a special concert program with his equally talented daughter Lauren called “Back-to-Back” in which they turn their combined talents to classical arias, Neapolitan love songs, jazz, and a little Gordon Lightfoot.


Richard’s discography includes an all-Verdi recording on CBC Records, the highly acclaimed recording of Beethoven’s Fidelio with Christine Brewer on Chandos, Verdi’s Don Carlo with the Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus under the direction of Bernard Haitink (Philips) and Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Neeme Järvi (Deutsche Grammophon). He has also recorded Lanza (Warner Music), made for the film on the life of Mario Lanza, in which he sings the title role. Other recordings include He made three recordings with the late Richard Bradshaw and the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra: a solo album of French and Italian Arias (CBC Records), Rarities by Rossini and Verdi, with Gary Relyea (CBC Records) and Aria, une sélection de Radio-Canada with Anita Krause, Wendy Nielson and Gary Relyea (CBC Records).  Richard is also a featured artist on the Millennium Opera Gala recording released by CBC Records.

His DVDs include his highly acclaimed appearances as Bacchus in the Metropolitan Opera production of Ariadne auf Naxos with Deborah Voigt and Natalie Dessay (Virgin Classics), his roles as Cavaradossi in Tosca and as O’Brien in Lorin Maazel’s 1984 (both on Decca), and as Enzo in Ponchielli’s La Gioconda (TDK).


Richard’s rise to the top of the opera world did not follow the traditional path – his career began in the coffee houses and clubs of Victoria, BC, where he performed with his own rock band for ten years. Since making his debut in 1980 with Pacific Opera Victoria, he has gone on to take the opera world by storm while not neglecting his roots, enthusiastically performing songs by Gordon Lightfoot or Stan Rogers whenever possible. In January 2010, Bravo! presented a documentary (Harbinger Films) on Richard called the ‘Folk-Singing Opera Star’. Now available on DVD, the documentary features him in a musical collaboration with Bruce Cockburn, in major performances and in discussion about his life and career.

In the summer of 2007, Richard Margison and Opera Director Valerie Kuinka founded the Highlands Opera Studio, which provides advanced operatic training to a select group of talented young professionals with the main objective to provide these singers with the necessary skills to embark on a career in opera. The program includes vocal master classes, individual voice lessons, movement classes, stagecraft coaching and staging rehearsals for a fully staged production.


Richard gives generously of his time to support a number of causes. He has offered his talent at benefits in Chicago, for the Metropolitan Opera, Leukaemia Research (Ontario), LOFT Community housing (Toronto), the Children’s Opera Chorus (Toronto), the Royal Conservatory of Music, and many others. He has been particularly active in his home province of British Columbia, where he has raised more than two million dollars through benefit concerts including Victoria Symphony, Pacific Opera Victoria, the Victoria Conservatory of Music, Vancouver Symphony, Vancouver Opera and the Rotary Club.

In June 2012, Richard received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, created to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne and to recognize an individual’s significant contribution to Canada. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2001 not only in honour of his contribution to musical life in Canada but in recognition of his presence on the international stage. In October 2009 he received Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the The Giulio Gari Foundation and The Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation. He also holds Honorary Doctorates from the University of Victoria (DMus), University of British Columbia (D.Litt) and McMaster University (D.Litt).

He shares his home in Toronto, Canada with his wife, opera director Valerie Kuinka and his daughter Lauren.

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