David Lloyd, a tenor with a storied career who was the director of the Juilliard American Opera Center from 1985 to 1988, died on February 8. He was 92.
Born in Minneapolis on February 29, 1920, David Lloyd Jenkins came to music early—his mother was an accompanist for vocal coaches. He received his bachelor’s degree at the Minnesota College of Music, now part of the University of Minnesota, and did advanced studies at the Curtis Institute. He also served as a Navy pilot during World War II.
The singer, who dropped his original last name at the suggestion of his management, became a protégé of Serge Koussevitzky (a Juilliard guest conductor in the late 1940s). Koussevitzky tapped Lloyd to sing the Beethoven Ninth at Tanglewood in 1948. The following year, Benjamin Britten chose him to play the title role in his opera Albert Herring, which had its U.S. premiere at the festival. In 1950, Lloyd made his New York City Opera debut as David in Wagner’s Meistersinger; it was the beginning of a long association with the company that continued through most of the 1950s and occasionally in later years.
While pursuing his busy stage career, Lloyd also performed frequently on television, where opera and vocal music were programming mainstays at the time. OnOmnibus in 1955, Lloyd was the tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah, conducted by Leonard Bernstein; he was also in Bernstein’s 1956 recording of the oratorio with the New York Philharmonic. Lloyd sang regularly with the NBC Opera Theater including taking the role of Pierre in the American premiere of Prokofiev’s War and Peace, in 1957, and the Chaplain in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites later the same year. In 1969, he sang Skuratov in Janacek’s From the House of the Dead, which received its U.S. premiere by the WNET Opera Theater.
Starting in the 1960s, Lloyd developed a career in teaching and working with singers that eventually led to his Juilliard appointment. Among the places he taught were the universities of Iowa and West Virginia and Hunter College, where he ran the opera workshop and opera theater from 1965 to 1970. He left Hunter for the University of Illinois at Champaign, where he served as chair of the opera division until he came to Juilliard. From 1965 to 1980, Lloyd was the general director of the Lake George Opera Festival (now known as Opera Saratoga), where he promoted the performance of opera in English, founded an apprentice artist program, and formed the Contemporary American Opera Studio Studio. Following his retirement from Juilliard, he became the director of the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation, a position that allowed him to continue his commitment to developing and funding the careers of young artists.
Lloyd recorded under Koussevitzky, Bruno Walter, Eugene Ormandy, Fritz Reiner, and Dimitri Mitropoulos, among others, and was on the board of dozens of musical organizations. His first wife, Maria Shefeluk Lloyd, a violinist, and his son Timothy Cameron Lloyd, a composer, predeceased him. He is survived by his second wife, Barbara Wilson Lloyd, his son David Thomas Lloyd, and a grandson.