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Article

Noël Goodwin

(Havell )

(b London, July 2, 1922; d Beaconsfield, February 24, 2007). English conductor . After studies at the RAM, in 1947 he joined the New London Opera Company at the Cambridge Theatre as a répétiteur; he made his début there that year conducting Carl Ebert’s production of Rigoletto. He went to Glyndebourne as a répétiteur in 1950, returning (1953–8) as chorus master and associate conductor, working closely with Vittorio Gui on the Italian repertory. During that period he was also principal conductor at the Wexford Festival. In 1959 he became a resident conductor at Covent Garden, where he remained until 1965, giving over 200 performances of 16 operas. He toured with the English Opera Group to the USSR and Portugal, conducting Albert Herring and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. From 1963 to 1967 he was music director of the WNO. He first conducted the Sadler’s Wells Opera in 1957...

Article

Roger Covell

(b Nelson, Dec 1, 1932; d Sydney, April 12, 2009). New Zealand mezzo-soprano. She studied with Dame Sister Mary Leo in Auckland, at the New South Wales Conservatorium and at the London Opera Centre. Her Australian début (1954, Sydney) was as Azucena with the Sydney-based National Opera of Australia. She sang in England with the Carl Rosa company and from 1961 to 1964 at Sadler’s Wells. After a return to Auckland for a period with New Zealand Opera (1964–6) she made guest appearances at Covent Garden, Bordeaux, Chicago and elsewhere. She was a principal at Covent Garden from 1972, then joined Australian Opera in 1976, where she had marked success in such diverse roles as Jane in Patience and Carmen. In 1990 she sang Mother Marie (Dialogues des Carmélites) at San Diego. She sang Marcellina in Ponnelle’s film of Le nozze di Figaro...

Article

Max Loppert

(John Elwyn )

(b London, Feb 5, 1924; d London, Dec 23, 2002). English director . During his period as an Oxford undergraduate he produced Idomeneo for the Oxford University Opera Club (1947); immediately afterwards he went to Glyndebourne, where he worked (1950–53) as an assistant to Moran Caplat and came under the influence of the producers Carl Ebert and Günther Rennert. Besch’s first professional production was of Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes (1953, WNO); thereafter he went on to produce operas at all the main British houses and festivals – he formed a particularly close link with Sadler’s Wells Opera and the New Opera Company (of which he was a guiding figure) – and in most of the world’s main operatic centres. Besch’s skill in economically marshalling stage forces and his acute sense of style very seldom failed him in the enormous number and wide variety of works tackled during a long career. He was particularly associated with the operas of Rossini (his deft, elegantly witty Sadler’s Wells stagings of ...

Article

Alan Blyth

(b Kråkstad, Nov 8, 1927; d Oslo, Sept 4, 2006). Norwegian soprano . She studied at Oslo and Frankfurt. She made her stage début in Oslo as Donna Anna in 1957, and became a member of the Wuppertal Opera (1957–9), then of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf (...

Article

Noël Goodwin

(b Rovereto, May 25, 1937; d Vienna, Oct 30, 2003). Italian tenor. He won first prize in a competition at Spoleto in 1961 and made his début at the festival there in 1962 as Ruggero (La rondine), later singing the Prince in The Love for Three Oranges. Further engagements for leading roles in Verdi and the verismo repertory quickly followed. He made his Vienna Staatsoper début in 1968 and his American début as Alfredo at San Francisco in 1969; later he appeared at the Metropolitan Opera as Almaviva (1971). He was first heard at Covent Garden in 1981 as Vasco de Gama (L’Africaine); this was followed by Calaf, a role which, together with Don José, he also sang on the Royal Opera’s Far East tour in 1986. At Verona (1988–9) he sang Enzo and Radames. His recordings include Leoncavallo’s La bohème...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Ostseebad Nienhagen, Jan 3, 1936; d March 13, 2003). German tenor . Engaged in 1965 at Augsburg, he sang Lensky, Dimitri, Gabriele Adorno, Lionel (Martha), Idomeneus, Manrico, Chénier, Puccini’s Des Grieux and Max. At Bayreuth (1973–4) he sang Siegmund and Walther. In 1974 he was engaged at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, where his repertory over 25 years has included Huon, Florestan, Tristan, Parsifal, Erik, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, the Emperor (...

Article

Ellen Highstein

(b New York, Feb 13, 1923; d March 7, 2009). American impresario and music administrator . He attended the Longy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1940–41), where he was a pupil of Boulanger, and then worked for NBC (1941–51). He has held administrative or board appointments with several organizations. He was vice-president in charge of programming at Lincoln Center (from 1963) and general manager of the Metropolitan Opera (1972–5). At the Metropolitan he appointed James Levine music director and John Dexter director of production. He brought new works into the repertory, including Britten’s Death in Venice and Berlioz’s Les Troyens. In 1983 he was appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. His autobiography Musical Chairs: a Life in the Arts was published in 1977.

CBY1974 S. E. Rubin: ‘A Met Understudy Makes it to the Top’, New York Times Magazine...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Palermo, Oct 25, 1943; d Ferrara, January 13, 2008). Italian tenor . He studied with Carlo Bergonzi, making his début in 1974 at Milan (Teatro Nuovo). He first sang at La Scala in 1976 as Cassio, the role of his Metropolitan début (1979). He appeared widely in Italy and in Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Geneva and Paris as well as at Covent Garden, where he sang Manrico in ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Durham, Aug 29, 1943; d London, July 15, 2009). English contralto . She studied in London at the RCM, making her début in 1970 as the Governess (The Queen of Spades) with Sadler’s Wells (later the ENO), for whom she sang Akhrosimova in War and Peace (1972) and Beroe in The Bassarids (1974), both British stage premières, as well as Ulrica, Erda, Podtochina (The Nose) and Mistress Quickly. She sang Mrs Page (Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor) at Wexford (1976) and made her Covent Garden début in 1977 as Anna (Les Troyens). For the WNO she sang Filip’yevna (Yevgeny Onegin) and Sosostris (The Midsummer Marriage); in 1986 she sang Florence Pike (Albert Herring) at Glyndebourne and in 1990 the Nurse (Ariane et Barbe-bleue) with Opera North. Her repertory included Mrs Herring, Auntie (...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Budrio, nr Bologna, March 28, 1918; d Milan, March 19, 2006). Italian baritone. He studied in Bologna and made his début there at the Teatro Comunale in 1947 as the Herald (Lohengrin). He first sang at La Scala in 1952 as Alfio (Cavalleria rusticana) and in 1955 took part in the stage première of Milhaud’s David. He made his American début in 1956 at San Francisco as Luna, also singing Scarpia, Amonasro and Giovanni (Francesca da Rimini). In 1959 he created Marino in Luciano Chailly’s Riva delle Sirti at Monaco. He made his Metropolitan début in 1960 as Boccanegra and remained with the company for 16 seasons, singing more than 200 performances, while continuing to appear at all the leading Italian theatres. His repertory included Enrico Ashton, Riccardo (I puritani), Nabucco, Germont, Don Carlo (La forza del destino...

Article

David Cummings

(b Los Angeles, Feb 20, 1913; d Los Alamitos, CA, March 1, 2003). American soprano. She studied in California and with Florence Easton in New York. She first appeared as Marguerite, in Los Angeles in 1940, and made her Metropolitan début in 1941, as Pamina. She was best known for her Mozart roles, including Zerlina and Susanna, but sang in New York until ...

Article

Harold Rosenthal

(b Gadsden, al , Jan 14, 1922; d Bayreuth, Germany, June 24, 2012). American tenor . He studied at the University of Alabama and the New England Conservatory of Music and in Rome with Luigi Ricci and Bertelli. He made his début in 1951 at Boston as Lensky and his European début in 1954 as Rodolfo at Spoleto. After engagements at Kiel (1953–4) and Brunswick (1955–9), he was engaged by the Mannheim Opera, which became his base. He first sang at Bayreuth in 1956 as the Steersman, returning as Lohengrin (1967), Parsifal (1968), Walther (1969) and Siegfried (1970–75), the last a role he also sang at La Scala, Covent Garden, Munich, Florence and Naples. As Siegfried he looked and moved well; though lacking the full vocal resources for the part, in 1983 he was recalled to Bayreuth to replace a colleague in ...

Article

Richard Bernas and Elizabeth Forbes

(b New York, March 29, 1931; d Geneva, Switzerland, Nov 28, 2012). American soprano. She studied with Belle Julie Soudent at the Juilliard School. In 1953 she scored a notable success in a world tour of Porgy and Bess and then sang the Countess in the American première of ...

Article

Noël Goodwin

[Engel, Stientje ]

(b Amsterdam, Aug 28, 1932; d Amsterdam, August 7, 2014). Dutch soprano . She studied at the Amsterdam Conservatory, joined the chorus of the Nederlandse Opera and, after singing small roles with the company, scored a major success in 1963 as the Queen of Night, which quickly took her to débuts in the same role in Munich and Vienna, at the Metropolitan Opera (...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

[Leigh Pemberton, Nigel Douglas ]

(b Lenham, Kent, May 9, 1929). English tenor . He studied in Vienna with Alfred Piccaver, making his début in 1959 at the Kammeroper as Rodolfo (La bohème), then singing at the Volksoper. Later he created L’Heureux in Sutermeister’s Madame Bovary(1967, Zürich), Philip in Gardner’s The Visitors (1972, Aldeburgh) and Basil in Mathias’s The Servants for the WNO (1980), with which he also sang Alwa (Lulu), the Captain (Wozzeck), Loge and Herod. With the ENO he sang the Devil in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Christmas Eve (1988) and the Earl of Kent in Reimann’s Lear (1989), both first British stage productions. A noted exponent of Britten’s operas, he has sung Peter Grimes, Vere, Aschenbach and Lechmere (Owen Wingrave), which he created both on BBC Television (1971) and at Covent Garden (1973). He occasionally directed the New Sadler’s Wells Opera and provided the company with new English texts. He also sings, translates and directs operetta. The dryness of his voice is offset by superb diction and the excellence of his acting....

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Milwaukee, Sept 26, 1947). American baritone. After studying at Lawrence University, he sang in Bremen (1972) and Düsseldorf (1974–5), where his roles included Dandini and the King (Die Kluge). In 1976 he took part in the première of Imbrie’s Angle of Repose...

Article

Donald Thompson

(b San Juan, Sept 24, 1938; d Bozeman, MT, Feb 5, 2000). Puerto Rican baritone. He enrolled in the Puerto Rico Conservatory (1960) to study the trumpet and singing; from 1966 when he was a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions he devoted himself exclusively to singing. He taught at the Indiana University School of Music (...

Article

Nicholas Anderson

(b London, Oct 20, 1946). English tenor. He studied in London with George Malcolm at Westminster Cathedral, where he was a chorister, and at the RCM. From the age of 14 he lived with the family of the tenor Gervase Elwes (1866–1921) and later took their name. He made his début in 1968 at the Proms in Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music. He has appeared in operas by Monteverdi, Rameau, Handel, Gluck and Mozart and in many others in concert performances. He sang the title roles in Monteverdi’s Orfeo and Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, and Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea. His recordings of operas by Rameau have been widely acclaimed and include Les Indes galantes (1974), Zaïs (1977), Pygmalion (1981), Le temple de la gloire (1982) and Zoroastre (1983). Other recordings include Vaughan Williams’s The Pilgrim’s Progress...

Article

Megan E. Hill

(b Shanghai, China, 1943). Peking opera performer of Chinese birth. Born to a family of actors, she began learning Peking Opera at the age of four. She later enrolled in the Shanghai Theater School, joining the new Shanghai Youth Peking Drama Troupe following graduation. When she was 18 years old, she was chosen by Chairman Mao’s wife to perform the female lead role in one of the national “model operas” created by China’s communist government. At the age of 22, she was among the artists deemed talented enough to be selected by the government to perform modern Beijing revolutionary operas during the Cultural Revolution, a period when classic and traditional works were banned. Working in those politically dangerous and unstable circumstances, Qi became well known throughout the country. When the sanctions on artistic production became less stringent in the late 1970s, she again began performing in productions of traditional works. She immigrated to the United States in ...

Article

Noël Goodwin

(b Vancouver, July 31, 1929; d Johannesburg, South Africa, September 11, 2011). Canadian bass . He studied at Santa Barbara with Lotte Lehmann and later at the Toronto Royal Conservatory. After a period as a principal with the Canadian Opera Company, he undertook further studies in New York and Milan. In 1961 he joined Sadler’s Wells Opera in London, with which he sang basso cantante roles in over 500 performances as well as appearing with Scottish Opera and the WNO. He took part in the English Opera Group première of Britten’s Curlew River (1964), made his début at Covent Garden in 1970 as Ferrando (Il trovatore) and at Glyndebourne in 1973 in Der Besuch der alten Dame (Einem); in 1975 he appeared there as Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, a role he had recorded under Stravinsky. In Canada he has sung the Grand Inquisitor and Daland (...