14 Oct 2011

Christopher Doig loses battle with cancer

7:22 am on 14 October 2011

Opera singer and cricket executive Christopher Doig has died at the age of 63.

Mr Doig was diagnosed with bowel cancer about two years ago and in the past 12 months his condition was described as incurable. He passed away surrounded by family in Christchurch on Thursday.

In 1972, he won the Mobil Song Quest and two years later began studying at the Vienna Music Academy where he graduated with top honours.

After a brief period teaching at Auckland Grammar, Mr Doig embarked on an international singing career.

In 1984, he left the Vienna State Opera, returning home to be director of the Christchurch Arts Centre; four years later he was approached to be the director of Wellington's International Festival of the Arts.

He continued to perform in New Zealand and overseas, often with his wife Suzanne Prain.

In 1995, he was a surprise choice as chief executive of New Zealand Cricket, giving up his singing career to do so.

Mr Doig was made an OBE in 1992 for services to the arts and was recognised in this year's Queen's Birthday honours.

NZSO chief executive Peter Walls says Christopher Doig played a crucial role in the development of the orchestra, was a great leader and had real passion.

Opera star Dame Malvina Major said Mr Doig was talented not only as a singer but as a businessman, ensuring the survival of opera in the South Island by establishing the organisation Southern Opera.

Christopher Doig is survived by his wife and four children.