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Roger Covell

(b Hawksburn, Victoria, 1894; d Melbourne, March 28, 1973). Australian soprano and administator. She was a pupil of Melba at the Albert Street Conservatorium in Melbourne and sang with the Consalez touring company in Australia (Gilda and Lucia, 1919) and the British National Opera Company in Britain (Micaela, Gounod’s Marguerite, the Princess in Holst’s The Perfect Fool). Her most enduring legacy to opera was her founding of the National Theatre Movement in Melbourne in 1936. This was envisaged as a national theatre that would not only accommodate a resident professional opera company, but also provide ballet and spoken drama. The first opera performances were given in 1939. Its peak of achievement came after World War II when it provided professional opportunities to many singers who subsequently had distinguished careers in Australia and abroad. It helped establish a new approach to operatic production in Australia. Johnson and her postwar counterpart, Clarice Lorenz of the Sydney-based National Theatre of Australia, both sat on the first board of the company established in ...

Article

Adrian Jackson

(b Glasgow, March 24, 1954). Scottish singer and trumpeter. His family moved to Wollongong, New South Wales, in 1955, though he has never taken Australian citizenship and remains a Scottish national. He began playing trumpet and singing in soul or rhythm-and-blues bands around Sydney, Geelong, and Melbourne before gravitating towards jazz in the late 1970s. After becoming very popular in Melbourne, he was soon the featured performer at jazz festivals and clubs around Australia; he also made several tours of Europe. Jones's repertory combines jazz standards with blues or rhythm-and-blues songs, and increasingly emphasizes original songs. A subtly persuasive singer and an economical trumpeter, he always includes accomplished jazz players in his bands (among them Barney McAll, Dale Barlow, and Lloyd Swanton).

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Sydney, Nov 25, 1950). Australian soprano. She studied in Sydney and Milan, making her début in 1975 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, in the title role of Donizetti's Rosmonda d'Inghilterra. The following year she made her Covent Garden début in the première of Henze's We Come to the River, then sang roles ranging from Handel (Semele and Alcina) and Mozart (Ilia, Pamina, Servilia and Susanna) to Micaëla, Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier and Werther), Adina and Britten's Helena. In 1984 she created the title role in Gavin Bryars's Medea in Lyons. Her roles with Australian Opera have included Mélisande, Massenet's Manon, Leïla, Countess Adèle, Fiordiligi and Handel's Alcina and Cleopatra. At Zürich she added two further Mozart roles to her repertory: Giunia (Lucio Silla) and in 1991 Aspasia (Mitridate, rè di Ponto), a part she also sang to acclaim at Aix-en-Provence and Covent Garden. Kenny's other Mozart roles include Konstanze, Donna Elvira, Donna Anna, which she sang at Glyndebourne in ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Copenhagen, May 20, 1938). Danish soprano . She studied in Copenhagen, making her début there in 1961 as Musetta. In 1973 she accompanied her husband, John Winther, to Australia, where he became manager of the new Sydney Opera House. She was a leading singer in Sydney and her repertory included Donna Anna and Donna Elvira, Leonore, Elisabeth, Venus, Ortrud, Amelia (...

Article

Roger Covell

[Ingram, Lance (lot Albert)]

(b Menindie, South Australia, July 12, 1925). Australian tenor . He was a pupil of Greta Callow. His audition with Gertrude Johnson of the National Theatre Movement brought him leading engagements with her company, including his 1954 appearances as Hoffmann. The prospect of studies with Dominique Modesti took him to Paris where, as Albert Lance, he made his début as Cavaradossi at the Opéra-Comique in 1956. Leading roles at the Opéra, beginning with Faust, followed quickly. He sang with Sutherland in Rigoletto at Covent Garden (1958) and became the resident Don José in Carmen at the Opéra from 1959. He appeared with Tebaldi in Tosca (1960) and with Rita Gorr in Médée (1962) and performed throughout Europe (Bol’shoy, 1965–6) and in North and South America. He sang with the Opéra du Rhin, Strasbourg, from 1972 to 1976. His recordings include complete sets of ...

Article

Roger T. Dean

[Keith Joseph ]

(b Sydney, March 21, 1927; d Sydney, April 13, 2007). Australian singer. He first played drums but then concentrated on singing, working in both Sydney and Melbourne in the immediate postwar period, and entranced by the idea and style of bop. He was influential for many younger modernists of the time, and notably again in the latter part of the 1990s, when he recorded as a leader (The Arrival, 1996, Spiral Scratch 0012) and as a sideman with Tim Hopkins (Upon my Camel, 1996, ABC 54460-2) and collaborated with Sandy Evans on Testimony (1999). He was mainly in Sydney from 1963, apart from a period in New Zealand, and formed the big band Killer Joe with the drummer Dennis Sutherland. Lane was an intense, unpredictable, and extroverted singer and personality.

A. Bissett: Black Roots, White Flowers: a History of Jazz in Australia (Sydney, 1979, rev. 2/1987)...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Seddon, Victoria, Jan 7, 1921; d Victoria, Canada, Aug 1, 1996). Australian tenor . He studied in Melbourne and London, making his début at the Stoll Theatre in 1949 as Fenton and Rodolfo. In 1951 he sang Thaddeus (The Bohemian Girl) at Covent Garden and began a 25-year engagement with the Royal Opera, first appearing as the Duke (Rigoletto). For a decade he sang lyric roles, Tamino, Alfredo, Pinkerton, Des Grieux (Manon), Jeník, Essex (Gloriana), Almaviva and Laca (Jenůfa). He created Jack in The Midsummer Marriage (1955) and Hermes in King Priam (1962, Coventry). Later he displayed rare vocal and dramatic versatility in character parts: as Mime, Spalanzani (Les contes d’Hoffmann), Pandarus (Troilus and Cressida), Il ‘Tinca’ (Il tabarro), Dr Caius, the Drunken Guest (Katerina Ismaylova), the Rector (...

Article

Max de Schauensee

revised by Alan Blyth

(Florence)

(b Dean’s Marsh, nr Melbourne, Feb 17, 1909; d Little Rock, AR, Jan 13, 1979). Australian soprano, active in France and the USA. She studied in Paris and made her opera début at Monte Carlo in 1932 as Elisabeth in Tannhäuser. In 1933 she first appeared, as Ortrud, at the Paris Opéra, where, during the next three years, she sang Brünnhilde, Salome (Hérodiade), Rachel (La Juive), Aida, Donna Anna, Brunehild (Sigurd), Brangäne and Valentine. She made her Metropolitan début in New York as the Walküre Brünnhilde on 18 December 1935, continuing to appear there for six seasons, mostly in the Wagnerian repertory but also as the heroines of Alceste, Salome and Thaïs. (She later became a naturalized American.) Although she had polio in 1941, she resumed her career in 1943 in specially staged performances during which she was always seated. In 1946...

Article

Richard Wigmore

(b Dunedin, March 7, 1967). New Zealand bass-baritone of Samoan origin. He sang in choirs in Dunedin as a boy treble and studied law and music at the University of Otago, graduating in 1999. After winning the McDonald’s Operatic Aria contest at the Sydney Opera House the same year, he moved to London to continue his studies with Vera Rosza at the RCM. There he won the Graziella Sciutti recital prize, the Keith Faulkner oratorio prize and, in 2002, his final year, the college’s gold medal. That year he made his ENO début, as a powerful, scene-dominating Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and recorded his first disc, of songs by Schubert, Brahms, Fauré and Finzi. This was widely praised both for the rich, cavernous resonance of Lemalu’s voice and the discerning musical intelligence with which it was used. Other notable débuts quickly followed, including Opera Australia, where he sang a grubbily resourceful Leporello in ...

Article

Noël Goodwin

(Neville )

(b Methven, Oct 6, 1950). New Zealand tenor . He studied in New Zealand, then at the London Opera Centre (1974–6) and with Richard Lewis and others. His début was as Ferrando at the St Céré Festival in France in 1977, followed that year by Don Ottavio for Glyndebourne Touring Opera and the next summer at Glyndebourne, where he returned in later seasons. He created the roles of Christ/Father in John Tavener’s Thérèse for his Covent Garden début in 1979; other débuts include the Paris Opéra in 1983 as Aménophis in Moïse (Rossini), San Francisco Opera in 1984 as Don Ottavio, and the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, in 1985 as Ferrando. In 1988 he added Berlioz’s Faust to his repertory at Hamburg and in 1989 Gounod’s at Berlin. He has sung frequently in Australian opera productions, and in 1992 sang Pyrrhus in the British première of Rossini’s Ermione...

Article

( b London, Feb 29, 1908; d London, Sept 29, 1982). English ethnomusicologist and folksinger . At the age of 15 he went to Australia as an assisted migrant, working on sheep stations for nine years. There he learnt bush songs from fellow workers and educated himself in music and the arts. Returning to England in the early 1930s, he associated with the left-wing London artistic set and became a founder member of the Artists International Association (1935). Needing money he signed on as a labourer on a factory ship for the 1937–8 Antarctic whaling season. The trip provided few folksongs, as the crew tended to sing hymns and popular hits. On his return he worked as a BBC scriptwriter and as a journalist on Picture Post. A self-taught ethnomusicologist, he owed much to the work of Brăiloiu and Katsarova. Influenced by A.L. Morton’s A People’s History of England...

Article

Frederick Page

(b Hamilton, New Zealand, Jan 28, 1943). New Zealand soprano. She studied in Auckland, then at the London Opera Centre and with Ruth Packer at the RCM. She had an early success at the Camden Festival, London, in 1968 as Matilda in Rossini’s Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra, and went on to sing Rosina at the Salzburg Festival in ...

Article

Peter Downes

(b Wellington, Dec 31, 1931; d Auckland, March 4, 1995). New Zealand bass . After training initially as a tenor, he made his début as a bass-baritone in Auckland in 1957 as Giorgio Germont. Three years later he made his Australian début as Sarastro, by which time his voice had developed a true bass depth and resonance. After further study in Paris with Dominique Modesti (1961–2), he sang with Sadler's Wells Opera (1963–7) and at the Hamburg Staatsoper from 1967 until he began a freelance career in 1977. In Hamburg he sang Black Will in the première of Goehr's Arden Must Die in 1967. From 1979 he regularly sang Fafner, Hunding and Hagen in Seattle Opera's annual bilingual Ring productions, and from 1977 he made frequent appearances with Victoria State Opera. Mangin claimed to have 189 roles in his repertory, of which the most notable were Don Pasquale, Ochs and, especially, Osmin, which he recorded twice. He was made a Kammersänger at Hamburg in ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(Anthony)

(b Melbourne, April 27, 1940). Australian baritone. After studying in Melbourne, he sang Belcore (L’elisir d’amore) in Brisbane. He joined Sadler’s Wells Opera (later the ENO) in 1967. His first major role was Mozart’s Figaro and in 1968 he sang Marcel Sciocca in Williamson’s The Violins of St Jacques. In 1969 he sang Yevgeny Onegin with Glyndebourne Touring Opera. His roles with the ENO include Germont, Schaunard, Escamillo, Papageno and Andrey, which he sang at the first London performance of Prokofiev’s War and Peace (1972) and at the opening of the Sydney Opera House (1973). He also sang Wolfram (Tannhäuser) with Australian Opera. In 1974 he created Lieutenant September in Crosse’s The Story of Vasco and sang the Captain (Adonis) in the first London stage performance of Henze’s The Bassarids. He made his Covent Garden début in the première of Henze’s ...

Article

Desmond Shawe-Taylor

[Mitchell, Helen Porter ]

(b Richmond, Melbourne, May 19, 1861; d Sydney, Feb 23, 1931). Australian soprano of Scottish descent. She had already had some training and concert experience before 1886, the year she left Australia for further study in Europe. She studied in Paris with mathilde Marchesi , and made her operatic début on 13 October 1887 at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels, as Gilda; in the following year she appeared at Covent Garden as Lucia and at the Paris Opéra as Ophelia. Her rare beauty of tone and finish of technique created an instant stir, and these virtues soon began to be matched by equivalent qualities of taste and musicianship, notably as the Gounod heroines, Juliette and Marguerite. She had studied both parts with the composer, and often sang them with Jean de Reszke, who became a decisive influence on her musical development.

Melba’s Lucia in 1893 began an association with the Metropolitan Opera that lasted irregularly until ...

Article

Noël Goodwin

( Fay )

(b Sydney, Dec 4, 1938). Australian mezzo-soprano . She studied at the Conservatorium in Sydney and in 1960 moved to London, where she began a concert career before making her operatic début in 1964 as Britten’s Lucretia in a City Literary Institute production; the same year she created Maggie Dempster in Maw’s One Man Show. She then joined the Covent Garden company and over the next 12 years sang more than 30 major roles, creating (and later recording) Thea in The Knot Garden (1970) and having notable success as Octavian, the role of her débuts at Chicago (1970), the Metropolitan Opera (1973) and the Paris Opéra (1976); she also recorded the part under Solti. Her appearance as Brangäne at Bayreuth in 1974 was followed by Fricka and Waltraute in the centenary Ring, and she sang Kundry at Covent Garden in 1979...

Article

Roger Covell

(b Melbourne, 1874; d Edinburgh, Feb 25, 1944). Australian soprano. She became principally active in France and Belgium in such parts as Ophelia, Lucia and Lakmé, and as an early interpreter of the Fairy Godmother in Massenet’s Cendrillon, but also took leading roles at Covent Garden (Gilda, Marguerite de Valois, 1900; Gilda, Zerlina, 1907) and at the Manhattan Opera House, New York, opening the 1910 season there as Lucia and returning to London to partner McCormack in Lakmé and La traviata.

Noted for her vocal range, light-toned consistency and highly developed coloratura technique in Melbourne in the 1890s, she made her European début at The Hague in 1898 as Marguerite de Valois in Les Huguenots, later appearing as Gilda with Caruso in Belgium. Under contract to the Paris Opéra, she was given permission to return to Australia with the Quinlan touring company in 1912, relearning her parts in English for the occasion and opening the season as Olympia in ...

Article

Roger Covell

( Lillian )

( b Bundaberg, Queensland, April 13, 1892; d Gold Coast, Queensland, Feb 9, 1976). Australian soprano . After showing promise as a child performer in Queensland she successfully auditioned with the J.C. Williamson management for professional training and from 1914, sang principal roles in Gilbert and Sullivan and musical comedy. After a South African tour she achieved lasting success as Teresa in Harold Fraser-Simson’s The Maid of the Mountains (1921, Melbourne), eventually playing the role some 2800 times. Contemporary critics wrote of the purity, richness, power and wide range of her voice, her conviction of style and her clear enunciation. She had a considerable success in London in Lehár’s Die blaue Mazur (1927). Her subsequent Australian appearances included the leading roles in two Australian musicals by Varney Monk, Collit’s Inn (1933) and The Cedar Tree (1934), many revivals of operettas and musical comedies, and concert tours up to her retirement in ...

Article

Harold Rosenthal

revised by Alan Blyth

( Jean )

( b Ballarat, Victoria, Aug 15, 1924). Australian soprano . She studied with Clive Carey both at the Melbourne Conservatory and at the RCM. She made her English concert début at the Royal Albert Hall in Acis and Galatea in 1948 and that autumn joined Sadler’s Wells Opera, appearing regularly there until 1954. She was ideally cast when she sang Anne Trulove in the first British staging of The Rake’s Progress (1953, Edinburgh) and at her Glyndebourne début the following year. After a notable Covent Garden début (1953) as Mimì, she sang there regularly until 1962. In such roles as Susanna, Pamina, Marzelline, Micaëla, Antonia (Les contes d’Hoffmann), Mařenka, and Blanche in the British première of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites (1958), she was admired for the touching sincerity of her acting and the lyrical warmth of her voice. In 1955 she created the title role of Arwel Hughes’s ...

Article

Roger Covell

(b Melbourne, July 12, 1888; d Canberra, March 16, 1974). Australian tenor. He studied singing while working as a mechanic. He made his début as Beppo (Fra Diavolo) under the name of Joseph Mummery, and also sang Arturo with the Frank Rigo company (1919, Melbourne); in the same year he took the title role in Gounod’s Faust in a special all-Australian performance in English given under the auspices of the Australian Natives Association. Tours of Australia and New Zealand with J. C. Williamson’s opera company, and a successful audition with Percy Pitt for the British National Opera Company confirmed his professional transition from mechanic to leading tenor. After further studies in Italy, he sang Rodolfo in Melba’s Covent Garden farewell in 1926, appeared as the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier conducted by Bruno Walter, returned to Australia with the Melba-Williamson tour of 1928 and, after additional appearances in the USA and London, joined the Australian tour mounted by Benjamin Fuller in ...