David Edwards obituary

<span>David Edwards took on leading tenor roles, culminating, in 1993, in the title role in Peter Grimes</span><span>Photograph: provided by family</span>
David Edwards took on leading tenor roles, culminating, in 1993, in the title role in Peter GrimesPhotograph: provided by family

My friend David Edwards, who has died aged 86, was a prominent figure in the amateur music scene in and around Bath for more than half a century. In the 1970s and 80s, he was the driving force behind Bath Opera.

Although he was a quantity surveyor by profession, his life revolved around music. Blessed with a fine tenor voice, he first appeared as a soloist in The Messiah at the age of 17 and, for many years, continued a busy round of oratorio and opera performances.

In 1977, David and his second wife, Jill (nee Fowles), whom he had met when they were both members of the BBC West of England Singers and of the Bath Opera Group, and married in the late 70s, established Bath Opera, which announced itself with a production of Verdi’s Macbeth, with Jill as Lady Macbeth and David as Macduff.

For the first 10 years or so of the company’s existence, David was its chairman. From the start, the couple created a family atmosphere within the group, where chorus members and principals were equally valued. They were dedicated to improving standards, and generous to a fault. The music room of the family home was always available for rehearsals, and after-show parties took place in their garden.

For years, David took on the leading tenor roles, culminating, in 1993, in one of his greatest achievements, the title role in Peter Grimes.

David also performed with the Devizes-based White Horse Opera; with Operaletta, a group focused on modern one-act operas; and at Shawford Opera, based at Shawford Mill, near the village of Rode, south of Bath, where his last appearance, around 1997, was as Bardolph in Verdi’s Falstaff, supporting Andrew Shore in the title role.

Never one to look back with regret, once David decided that his days as a leading tenor were over, he slipped without fuss into the chorus, filling minor tenor roles as and when required. His support for and encouragement of Bath Opera never wavered. A man of great urbanity and charm, he had the ability to engage with all he met and to treat everyone as an equal.

Born in Chippenham, Wiltshire, one of five children of Doris and Frank Edwards, a gardener, after attending Chippenham secondary modern school, David went to Bath Technical College, where he studied quantity surveying. He did national service in the RAF and was posted to RAF Locking near Weston-super-Mare in Somerset.

His first job was with the Chippenham firm of Downing, Rudman and Bent; he then moved to Blackford and Son, in Calne, before he and his friend Roland Turner established the building firm of FR Turner, which he ran for more than three decades.

In 1962, David married Bunty Walton; they divorced in the early 70s.

He is survived by Sarah Kate and Lisa, the two daughters from his first marriage, a stepdaughter, Sarah Jane, from Jill’s first marriage, and two grandsons. Jill died in 2002 and a stepson, Charlie, died in 2019.