Rodney Milnes, British opera critic, Died at 79

Rodney Milnes Blumer was born on July 26, 1936, and died on December 5, 2015.

He was an English music critic, musicologist, writer, translator and broadcaster, with a particular interest in opera.

Born in Stafford, Rodney attended Rugby School and studied history at Christ Church, Oxford University, before working in publishing.

Rodney was an opera critic of Harpers and Queen (1970 to 1990), opera critic of The Spectator (1988 to 1990), Evening Standard (1990 to 1992), and Chief Opera Critic The Times (1992 to 2002).

He was associate editor of Opera from 1976, deputy editor from 1984, and editor between 1986 to 1999.

There he honed his reputation as a “trenchant and entertaining writer, with a strong background in literature and theatre, and wide musical sympathies”.

In his final editorial for Opera, Rodney wrote “Thank you to all of those who have written in outrage cancelling their subscriptions, and then not done so.

Thank you to all readers for being so patient with my bêtes noires. I know I’m wrong about surtitles (like hell I am) and they’re here to stay.

So are sponsors and their lordly, impertinent ways. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t really feel that a century that starts with Lilian Baylis and ends with Chris Smith is one that has seen a lot in the way of progress”.

Rodney translated various operas under his original name, including Rusalka, The Jacobin, Osud, Don Chischiotte, Pollicino, Undine, Giovanna d’Arco, Die drei Pintos and Tannhäuser.

Rodney Milnes contributed entries on Massenet and his operas in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

He was consultant editor of the Viking Opera Guide, and revised and updated A Concise History of Opera in 1987.

Rodney was a contributor to Opera on Record Vol 1 (Carmen), Vol 2 (Thais and Don Quichotte) and Vol 3 (The stage works of Weill).

Rodney passed away at age 79 in December 2015.