DAVID Ward, former principal singer with York Opera from the 1960s to the 1980s, has died.

By profession an accountant with John Smith’s Brewery in Tadcaster, where he lived, he took part in York Opera’s first staged production, Orpheus In The Underworld, in 1968.

Paying tribute, York Opera stalwart Pauline Marshall said: "Past and present members of York Opera (formerly City Opera Group) have been saddened to learn of the death of one of the company’s outstanding former soloists, baritone David Ward.

"From 1968, he was the company’s leading baritone over the following 20 or so years, coming into his own when York Opera moved on to the more vocally demanding works of Verdi. David’s voice was ideally suited to Verdi’s high baritone roles, notably Nabucco in 1976 and Macbeth in 1978."

Mr Ward also sang with West Riding Opera in Leeds and with Yorkshire Chamber Opera, with whom he excelled in Mozart’s baritone roles, notably Count Almaviva in Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro. He was engaged frequently by choirs and choral societies in the region as a soloist in oratorios and greatly enjoyed singing Lieder and English Song in recitals.

"In addition to his musical talents, David was also a witty, friendly and lovely person – with a joke book that was the envy of many!" said Pauline. "He will be greatly missed by his beloved family and his many friends."

The funeral will take place on April 27 at 12 noon at St Mary's Church, Tadcaster.