Even in his early years as a young singer coming up through the Sadler’s Well’s chorus to a junior principal, Lawrence was noticed by the press. Here are some quotes.
“Madam Butterfly”, Yorkshire Evening press 7 March 1961
The afore-mentioned orchestra conducted with considerable elan by Michael Moores, threatened to overwhelm the minor singers in the early minutes, but met its match in Lawrence Folley, as the Japanese priest, who thundered about the stage like a force eight-powered Billy Graham
“La Boheme”, The Evening Chronicle Newcastle upon Tyne, 31 October 1961
The first scene last night was not too auspicious. All the students were trying too hard to force a heartiness into the scene which is not really there. Only Lawrence Folley impressed as he strode majestically across the stage as the musician Schaunard, swinging an enormous plaid over his shoulder and looking like Bonnie Prince Charlie before Culloden.
And then to larger roles
“Hansel & Gretel”, Glasgow Herald 12 November 1964
Lawrence Folley, not so easily recognised as their “poor broom-maker” father, towers into Act 1 as a Hollywood-like vision of manhood.
“Marriage of Figaro”
Cambridge News 14 July 1965
But perhaps the best pair were the Count and Countess. Lawrence Folley and Janice Chapman. In his great Third Act scene Folley put in some noble work and well deserved the ovation he received. He managed both the scheming and tenderness of the role equally well.
“L’Heure Espagnole”, Daily Telegraphy 10 February 1966
Lawrence Folley at once made it shatteringly plan that in affairs of the heart physical strength is not to be sneezed at.
With Joyce Blackham in L’Heure Espagnole
“Die Fledermaus”,Bradford Telegraph & Argus 28 May 1966
Outstanding in a fine cast of principals were Lawrence Folley as Colonel Frank and Jenifer Eddy as Adele. Folley’s prison governor is a masterpiece of comedy and should become a classic interpretation of this role.
“La Belle Helen”, Yorkshire Evening Post 31 March 1967
High jinks were instantly restored in the third act, where massive Lawrence Folley (Agamamnon) brought a mighty roar of laughter with his sudden simulation of a beat-crazy pop idol.
La Belle Helene 1967 with John Fryatt & Derek Hammond Stroud
Then the move to South Africa where Lawrence sung leading roles for all the arts councils.
Don Pasquale, Sunday Times (South Africa) 23 June 1970
Lawrence Folley is just as good as the scheming Dr Malatesta and his comedy duet with Pasquale with its double tempo lyrics and laughing effete was rightly encored. Folley wears his clothes with the assurance and grace of a Brummell, has the charm and personality of a matinee idol, sings like a dream and is a fine actor. With “Tosca” and now “Pasquale” Mr Folley is going to have a large following.
La Forza Del Destina, Pretoria News 27 March 1971
Were these Italians from Italy not so outstanding one would be tempted to head this review “in praise of Folley” so impressive was Lawrence Folley, the baritone in his role as Don Carlo, Leonora’s proud vengeful brother who causes all the trouble and brings tragedy in his wake. He was in excellent voice and powerfully in command, holding his own as soloist as well as in ensemble
Rigoletto, The Star 14 August 1971
“There was no doubting the central figures, Rigoletto, sung by Lawrence Folley. He was able to impart through his personality the twisted and anguished nature of the vicious court jester caught in his own toils”
Pretoria News interview with Marita Napier (pre Nabucco) on 28 February 1978
“The Production compared favourably with European Standards, the stand of the chorus was high and I love working with Lawrence Folley - he is a real pro”.
With Marita Napier in Nabucco
Don Giovanni, Johannesburg Opera Magazine November 1972
The singing was of a particularly high standard throughout. Lawrence Folley sang Giovanni. He not only looked the part but sang and acted it very well indeed. The apparently shallow fun-loving and lush-living seducer with the charming manner who also has other traits such as determination and an agile mind was well observed. His portrayal was underlined by remarkable singing.
Don Pasquale, The Star 10 April 1972
Again we witnessed the excellent partnership of Harold Blackburn as Don Pasquale and Lawrence Folley as Dr Malatesta. This was a smooth polished display of well-matched voices, clear enunciation fine acting and carefully calculated movements. So well did these two singers combine that their famous patter duet at the end of Scene 1 Act 3, was warmly applauded and an encore was demanded and sung, an occurrence which is unknown for Johannesburg first-nighters.
As Dr Malatesta with Harold Blackburn as Don Pasquale, Durban 1978
Madame Butterfly, Rand Daily Mail 18 September 1978
Lawrence Folley, far removed from the swashbuckling heroics that are normally his lot, rises to the finest moments I’ve ever known from him in a superb portrayal of the agony of a go-between aware of the tragedy of both Butterfly and Pinkerton.
As Sharpless in Madame Butterfly
The Windhoek Advertiser May 1979
South African writer Madeleine van Biljoen describes singer Lawrence Folley as “the singing hero of the Highveld – and helluva singer who brings audiences, especially Transvaal ones, to their feet before he’s even opened his mouth”
1981 Interview with Leonie Rysanek in the South African Opera Magazine, “Senaria”
“He is one of the best Jokanaan’s I have heard in my life”.
As Jokanaan with Leonie Rysanek in Salome Cape Town 1981
Nabucco Sunday Times, South Africa Sunday 12 December 1982
Lawrence Folley is completely convincing as Nabucco. What an asset this fine baritone is to any production. I have seen him in a wide variety of roles and have yet to be disappointed.
As Nabucco with Marita Napier as Abigaille
Interview in the Citizen with Marita Napier on 16 March 1983
Her favourite singer is Lawrence Folley, who is Macbeth
As Macbeth with Marita Napier as Lady Macbeth
Macbeth, Pretoria 1983
The Argus, Cape Town 7 October 1983
The main point of excellence in this production is the Lawrence Folley version of the name role.
Scenaria Magazine November 1983, PACT Opera – The first two decades 1963-1983 by Henning Viljoen
Trying to make a selection from Lawrence Folley’s major contributions, be it as Don Giovanni, the Count (Figaro), Posa, Iago, Scarpia, Enrico, Malatesta or Carlo (La Forza), is a very difficult task, because he is one singer who never seemed to have had an off-night performance. But, his tour de force performances as Nabucco, Rigoletto and Macbeth, will be noted as great milestone in the history of opera in this country.
Don Giovanni, Durban, Sunday Times 16 June 1985
Lawrence Folley’s Don Giovanni is a mature, sophisticated, selfish, utterly devastating man in a performance that would be hard to beat anywhere.
Don Giovanni, Durban Daily News 11 June 1985
With five Nederburg Opera awards under his sword-belt and glowing tributes from Cape Town on his role of the amorous aristocrat, it was small wonder that Lawrence Folley dominated the opening performance of Angelo Gobbato’s production at the Alhambra Theatre on Saturday of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. His portrayal was fairly conventional. Folley presenting a devil-may-care seductive hero, but Mr Folley does the orthodox superbly and his voice has the ideal velvety baritone quality that the role calls for. He oozes zest for womanising, has a splendid poised, aristocratic manner on the stage and really looks like a man used to having his way with woman.
Peter Grimes, Pretoria, Citizen review 24 April 1986
Lawrence Folley as Balstrode, bluff, hearty and sensible, gives another fine portrayal. He too looks the part, as well as singing and acting with his usual expertise.
Falstaff, Durban, Daily News 9 April 1992
Lawrence Folley, the distinguished South African baritone, is currently appearing as Napac’s Falstaff at the National Playhouse. Winner of no fewer than five Nederburg Opera Awards and voted most popular male South African opera star in 1988, Lawrence Folley undeniably wears the mantle of Grand Seignior of this country’s opera stages.
For the past two decades, he has been an integral part of the opera going experience of at least two generations of music lovers countrywide. Folley has sung (and still sings) a repertoire of choice baritone roles which might prove the envy of many an international operator in the field – and not only in opera, but in musicals too.