Keel Watson was a renowned British bass-baritone who had a long and successful career in opera and concert. He was known for his powerful voice, versatile repertoire, and charismatic presence. He died unexpectedly on November 8, 2023, at the age of 59, leaving behind a legacy of music and memories.
Keel Watson’s Life and Career
Keel Watson was born in 1964 in London, England. He studied singing and trombone at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and served in the British Army as a musician. He made his professional debut in 1994 as Colline in La bohème with Opera North, and soon became a regular guest at major opera houses and festivals in the UK and abroad.
Some of his notable roles include Fasolt in Das Rheingold, Zuniga in Carmen, Reinmar von Zweter in Tannhäuser, Frazier in Porgy and Bess, Caronte in Orfeo, Doctor in Punch and Judy, Elder Ott in Susannah, Nourabad in Les Pêcheurs de perles, Oroveso in Norma, Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Dosifey in Khovanshchina, Iago in Otello, Don Pasquale, Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra, and Mandryka in Arabella. He also created several roles in contemporary operas, such as Elder in The Country of the Blind by Mark-Anthony Turnage, and Parlaine in The Palace in the Sky by Jonathan Dove.
Keel Watson was also a prolific concert singer, who performed works such as A Child of Our Time, Mahler’s Symphony no.8, Verdi’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Symphony no.9, and Handel’s Messiah. He collaborated with many distinguished conductors, such as Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Andrew Davis, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. He also appeared in films, such as The Magic Flute by Kenneth Branagh, and The Cunning Little Vixen by Geoff Dunbar.
Keel Watson made his Royal Opera debut in 2000 as Bosun in Billy Budd, and returned to sing Caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and King Sharyaati in Sukanya, a co-production between The Royal Opera, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Curve, Leicester. He was last seen on stage two weeks ago, singing Private Willis in Iolanthe at English National Opera.
Remembering Keel Watson, the British Bass-Baritone Who Died Suddenly
Keel Watson’s Death and Tributes
Keel Watson died on November 8, 2023, due to a heart attack before launching his boat at Shelly Beach, a place where he enjoyed diving and fishing. He was rushed to the hospital, but could not be revived. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends.
The news of his death was announced on the Facebook page of Steven Swales Artist Management, his agency, and on the websites of various opera companies and organizations that he worked with. Many people expressed their shock, grief, and condolences, and shared their memories and stories of working with him and listening to him. They also praised him for his contribution to the opera world and the music industry, and for his passion, generosity, and kindness.
Keel Watson’s funeral and memorial service details have not been released yet, but his family has asked for donations to the British Heart Foundation in his honor, to support the research and prevention of heart diseases.
Keel Watson will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. He will always be remembered as one of the finest bass-baritones of his generation, and as a friend and colleague to many.
- Q: When and where was Keel Watson born?
- A: Keel Watson was born in 1964 in London, England.
- Q: When and how did Keel Watson die?
- A: Keel Watson died on November 8, 2023, due to a heart attack before launching his boat at Shelly Beach.