Gary Relyea

Gary (Weston) Relyea. Bass-baritone, teacher, b Highland Park, Mich, 9 Apr 1942, naturalized Canadian 1972. Relyea studied piano at the University of Michigan and voice 1967-71 with Howell Glynne and Louis Quilico at the University of Toronto.

After his professional debut in 1970 as Pilate in Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO), Relyea continued to sing at the National Arts Centre (NAC) in Festival Canada (Festival Ottawa) productions, including Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos(1977; Harlequin) and Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1978 and 1981; Demetrius).

Relyea first sang at the Guelph Spring Festival in 1971 and subsequently appeared there in such roles as Lockitt in The Beggar’s Opera (1976) and Dr Shadow in the premiere of Charles Wilson’sPsycho Red (1978). At the Stratford Festival he appeared as The Man in the premiere (1973) of Raymond Pannell’s The Exiles and Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos and sang the title role in Jean Vallerand’s Le Magicien (1975).

Relyea made his debut with the Canadian Opera Company (COC) in 1972 as Charles La Tour in Symond’s The Spirit of Fundy, and with that company sang the roles of Monterone in Rigoletto (1973), Germont in La Traviata (1978), Kothner in Die Meistersinger, and Rangoni in Boris Godunov (1986). More recently, Relyea has appeared in productions of Beethoven’s Fidelio with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (1999-2000), Don Giovanni with L’Opéra de Québec (2002), and Lee Hoiby’s The Tempest with Pacific Opera Victoria (2002).

He has sung as soloist with all the major Canadian orchestras and many Canadian choirs including the Festival Singers, the Tudor Singers of Montreal, the Ottawa Choral Society, and the Mendelssohn Choir of Toronto. He has performed most of the standard baritone oratorio repertoire, excelling in the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, as Christus in the St Matthew Passion, and as bass soloist in Brahms’ A German Requiem. He also performed Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Vancouver Bach Choir (1996); Penderecki’s Credo at the International Choral Festival in Toronto (2002-3); Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with the Choral Arts Society in Washington (2002-3); and Brian Macdonald’s choreographed production Requiem 9/11: A Performance for Peace at the NAC (2002).

With New Music Concerts in Toronto Relyea sang in Ligeti’s Nouvelles Aventures in 1972 and premiered Serge Garant’s Rivages 15 May 1976, also touring Europe with the group that year to sing the Garant work. In Toronto in 1975 Relyea was a soloist in the premiere of István Anhalt’s La Tourangelle. He sang in Montreal for the first time 8 Feb 1973 in an SMCQ (Société de musique contemporaine du Québec) performance of Nouvelles Aventures. In 1977 he created the role of the father in Raymond Pannell’s TV opera Aberfan and in 2000 played the Commendatore in Leporello’s Revenge, a television production of the opera Don Giovanni.

Relyea began teaching at the University of Toronto in 1979 and in 2004 was an instructor of voice at the University of British Columbia. Relyea can be heard on the CBC recordings Rarities by Rossini and Verdi (1995, SMCD 5148) and Thine Angels Spirits (1999, SMCD 5189).