Peter Barcza | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Peter Barcza

(Joseph) Peter Barcza. Baritone, teacher, b Stockholm, of Hungarian parents, 23 Jun 1949, naturalized Canadian 1957; diploma, opera performance (Toronto) 1971.

Barcza, Peter

(Joseph) Peter Barcza. Baritone, teacher, b Stockholm, of Hungarian parents, 23 Jun 1949, naturalized Canadian 1957; diploma, opera performance (Toronto) 1971. While a pupil of Howell Glynne and Louis Quilico, studying 1968-71 on scholarship at the Opera Department of the University of Toronto, Barcza sang in several of the department's productions. He studied at the Villa Schifanoia Graduate School of Fine Arts in Florence (summer 1971) with Tito Gobbi, and at L'École des Arts Lyriques de l'Opéra de Paris in 1979. He sang supporting roles in the Canadian Opera Company's (COC) 1971 productions of Madama Butterfly and Macbeth. Barcza received the Jean Chalmers Award as the most promising young member of the Canadian Opera Company in 1971 and he won the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions in 1972. He also received the Bruce Yarnell Award from the San Francisco Opera in 1976 and the Floyd Chalmers Award from the Ontario Arts Council in 1982.

In 1972 Barcza sang Charles de la Tour in the premiere of Norman Symonds' The Spirit of Fundy, and in 1980 he created the role of Upwardly Mo in the CBC-TV world premiere of Raymond Pannell 's Harvest. In 1982 he sang Bo in the premiere of John Beckwith's The Shivaree. In 1986 for the Vancouver Opera he sang Gorjančikov in the North American premiere of Janáček's From the House of the Dead. Barcza appeared 1972-8 with the Canadian Opera Company and he has sung leading baritone roles on numerous occasions with the Calgary Opera, the Manitoba Opera, Opéra de Montréal, Opera in Concert (1975-93), Opera Lyra Ottawa, Opera Ontario, Pacific Opera Victoria, the Vancouver Opera and other opera companies in Canada and abroad. In concert he has appeared with the Atlantic, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal, New Caledonia, Quebec, and Regina symphony orchestras, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Toronto Symphony in such works as Carmina Burana, the Brahms Requiem, Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, and Walton's Belshazzar's Feast. Barcza has been broadcast on radio and TV by the CBC and Radio France.

Engagements Outside Canada

In 1983 he appeared at the Bad Hersfeld (Germany) Festival, singing Ulisse in Monteverdi's Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria. He has sung other leading roles in Belgium; Mexico City (Amonasro in Aida, 1990); Paris (eg, in 1981, and with L'Opéra de Metz, 1996); and New Zealand (as Rigoletto for Canterbury Opera, 1997).

A frequent performer in the US, Barcza has appeared in leading roles for New York City Opera (40 performances), Seattle Opera, Arizona Opera, New Orleans Opera, and other major opera companies.

Barcza's Style

Barcza specializes in the French and Italian operatic repertoire, primarily bel canto and Verdi. Noted for his ability as an actor, he has received much praise, eg, for bringing "presence and credibility to the role" of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly (Opera Canada, summer 2000). Of his interpretation of the same role for Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera Canada (winter 1999) said, "His compellingly sympathetic and finely sung Sharpless was one of the finest of his many POV appearances."


Barcza has been a sessional lecturer with the University of British Columbia since 2002. He has given masterclasses there and at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, the University of Toronto Opera Department, and elsewhere.