Cliff would continue to sing with the English National Opera for the next 10 years. He moved his young family to London, and England became his home. During this time he played most of the major bass roles – King Phillip in Don Carlos, the King in Lohengrin, plus the suit Ring cycle under the baton of Reginald Goodall. In all, he has performed in almost 40 different operas. He has performed in Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, Royal Albert Hall and has appeared in numerous recordings.
For 11 consecutive years, he sang with the San Francisco Opera, performing over 30 roles alongside names such as Pavarotti, Domingo, Jon Vickers and Beverley Sills. He sang with Dame Joan Sutherland in Lakme in Sydney in 1976, followed by Esclarmonde at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, again with Sutherland.
Cliff always believed he would one day return to Australia, and when the opportunity presented itself in 1977, he joined the Australian Opera and returned to Sydney permanently with his wife and three children. He loved being back in the sun and in no time had acquired a boat. He was often found in Sydney Harbor with his family or fishing with friends. He sang with what has become Opera Australia until his retirement in 1990. He was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2008 for his services to the performing arts.
A handyman by nature, Cliff was always happy to build – a brick wall, a shed, a fish pond and possibly a small cottage in the backyard of his home in Glebe. He had many friends ranging from Sutherland and Bonynge, with whom he had established a long-standing friendship, to all his traditional comrades who assisted him in his various building projects. When he retired, he joined a local bush music club and loved nothing better than hanging out with these new friends who came from all walks of life, brought their instruments and made music together. Cliff was always supposed to sing.
Over the years, Cliff has suffered several cardiac episodes requiring extensive medical intervention – all under the guidance of his brilliant cardiologist, Professor Phillip Harris of RPA, who has kept things going and given him plenty of extra time. His hearing has failed him for the past few years and being a very stubborn man, he refused to get a hearing aid. He would say to people, “Look at me when you speak and speak clearly, you know I’m a deaf old bastard.” “
The end of the road finally came and on October 7 he died peacefully in Greenwich Hospital with his family by his side.
Cliff is survived by his first wife Jeanette, their three children Victoria, Suzie and Richard, their grandchildren Stefan, Lily-Grace, Benji and Jessica, and his second wife Ruth Anders.