Jan Rubes


Jan Rubes has been a leading performer and director on stage, film, and TV, and in concert, opera, musical comedy, and drama. With an operatic career already established, the Czechoslovakia native immigrated to Canada in 1949 and was soon the leading bass in the Canadian Opera Company. He has performed throughout Canada and the U.S. both with the company and in countless solo recitals and appearances with symphony orchestras. Rubes has done more than 100 operatic roles and has appeared in more than 70 films, including the well-remembered Witness with Harrison Ford.

With his wife, Susan Douglas Rubes, he helped develop Young People’s Theatre in Toronto. A member of the Order of Canada and holder of two honourary doctorates, he has won Geminis for his film work. His life is rich in detail – he has been both a national tennis champion and an important part of the history of the performing arts in Canada.


... a truly splendid biography of Jan Rubes. Fast-moving, intimate and packed with memorable anecdotes, this is one of the best biographies published in Canada in recent years, managing at once to paint a full portrait of the man set into an even fuller portrait of the nation in the second half of the 20th century, in a way many Canadian expats in Britain will vividly recall and with great affection.

This is a compelling story of a remarkable life.

About the Author

Ezra Schabas

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Ezra Schabas

Ezra Schabas is professor emeritus, University of Toronto, and was Principal of the Royal Conservatory of Music (1978-1983). He has written two major biographies: Theodore Thomas: America's Conductor and Builder of Orchestras (University of Illinois Press, 1989), and Sir Ernest MacMillan: The Importance of Being Canadian (University of Toronto Press, 1994), which won the 1995 City of Toronto Book Award.