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Roger Covell

(b Melbourne, June 8, 1927). Australian baritone . He began his career with Gertrude Johnson’s National Theatre Movement. He left Australia in 1954 for further study in Paris and worked at Covent Garden from 1956; in 1959 he moved to Germany, where he was based for the next decade, appearing in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin and Munich, and becoming a principal baritone at Cologne until ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Pinnaroo, South Australia, July 30, 1953). Australian soprano . After appearing in Australia she joined Opera Factory Zürich, with whom she made her London début in 1980 as Galatea. With Opera Factory London (1982–92) she has sung Pretty Polly (Punch and Judy), Lucy (The Beggar’s Opera), Denise (The Knot Garden), Juno and Callisto, Gluck’s Iphigenia, Fiordiligi, Donna Anna, Countess Almaviva and Poppaea, and took part in the première of Osborne’s Hell’s Angels (1986). For ENO she sang Monteverdi’s Eurydice and Hope (1983) and Queen Tye (Akhnaten), which she had already sung at Houston and for New York City Opera (1984), and created Oracle of the Dead/Hecate in The Mask of Orpheus (1986). She sang the Queen of Night for WNO (1986), Musetta for Opera North (1988) and Jo Ann in Tippett’s ...

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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...

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Noël Goodwin

(b Glasgow, March 15, 1954). Scottish soprano . She studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. In 1975 she joined the Australian Opera on a three-year contract, making her début as Pamina and also singing Countess Almaviva, Micaëla and Gilda. Her British début was at Glyndebourne in ...

Article

Roger Covell

(b Melbourne, July 25, 1880; d Melbourne, Nov 19, 1951). Australian soprano. Although she was fêted throughout much of her career, her subsequent obscurity has been attributed by her partisans to the dominance of Melba. She received generous support in her late teens for study overseas, first with Mathilde Marchesi (who dismayed her by wishing to turn her into a contralto), then with Jacques Bouhy. She made her début, after further study, at Cologne (1907) in Thomas’ Hamlet, followed by other appearances as Gounod’s Marguerite and Juliet. Her 1909–10 Australian tour included her alternation with the French soprano Bel Sorel in the Australian first performances of Madama Butterfly. A four-year contract awarded her by the Hofoper in Vienna in 1912 was cut short by World War I. She returned to Australia for the Rigo-J. C. Williamson opera season of 1919. Diabetes contributed to her loss of enthusiasm for an international operatic career and her subsequent concentration on concert work. Her singing of the mad scene in ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(William)

(b Sydney, Aug 9, 1930). Australian baritone. He studied in Sydney, making his début there in 1951 as Le Dancaïre. Moving to England, at Aldeburgh he created the roles of Odysseus in Berkeley’s Castaway (1967) and Choregos in Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy (1968). Joining Sadler’s Wells (later the ENO), he created Peter in Williamson’s Lucky Peter’s Journey (1969), Pizarro in Hamilton’s Royal Hunt of the Sun, Dessalines in Blake’s Toussaint (1977) and Karenin in Hamilton’s Anna Karenina (1981). He sang Grandier in The Devils of Loudun (1973), Silvio de Narni in Bomarzo (1976) and Nekrotzar in Le Grand Macabre (1982), all British premières. His repertory includes Mozart’s Count Almaviva and Don Giovanni, Rossini’s Dr Bartolo, Escamillo, Marcello, Germont, Scarpia, Szymanowski’s King Roger, the four villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Gunther, Kurwenal and several Janáček roles. A fine actor and musician, he excels in 20th-century works....

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Melbourne, Sept 29, 1950). Australian countertenor. He studied in Brisbane and made his début in 1974 at Vadstena, Sweden, in Provenzale’s La Stellidaura vendicata. He has sung with Scottish Opera, at Berne, Amsterdam, Venice, Innsbruck, Paris, Geneva, Munich, Buxton and Lausanne. His repertory includes Monteverdi’s Orfeo and ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Melbourne, July 20, 1931). Australian tenor. At first a baritone, he made his tenor début in 1954 at Melbourne as Don Ottavio. In 1962 he was engaged at Sadler’s Wells Opera where he created Boconnion in Bennett’s The Mines of Sulphur (1965). He also sang with Scottish Opera and the WNO, and made his American début in 1966 at San Francisco as Gregor (The Makropulos Affair). He first appeared at Covent Garden in 1972, as Števa (Jenůfa). His wide repertory included Aeneas (Les Troyens), Don José, David (Die Meistersinger) and Mime, which he sang in the ENO Ring cycle (1973). His roles in 20th-century operas included the Drum Major (Wozzeck), Peter Grimes, Skuratov (From the House of the Dead), Tom Rakewell, Dionysus (The Bassarids), the Shepherd (King Roger...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Sydney, Feb 8, 1943). Australian baritone. He studied in Sydney, where he made his début in 1966, and then in London before joining Scottish Opera (1972), with which he sang Count Almaviva, Malatesta, the Music-Master (Ariadne auf Naxos), James Stewart (Musgrave’s Mary, Queen of Scots...

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Alan Blyth

(b Sydney, Feb 23, 1914; d Sydney, March 15, 1990). Australian tenor. He made his début in 1948 at Perth as Hoffmann, then toured Australia, singing Lensky, Florestan, Alfredo, Cavaradossi, Lohengrin and other roles. In 1956 he joined Sadler’s Wells, making his début as Canio, then sang Pinkerton, Oedipus, Peter Grimes, Tannhäuser, Idomeneus (which he also sang at Aix-en-Provence), Samson, the Witch (Hänsel und Gretel) and Jim Mahoney in the first British staging of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (1963). He made his Covent Garden début in 1960 as Walther, but could not finish the performance because of illness. Later he sang Peter Grimes, the Drum Major (Wozzeck), Canio, and Claudius in Searle’s Hamlet, a role he created at the Hamburg Staatsoper (1968). He also created Mosbie in Goehr’s Arden must Die (1969, Hamburg). He sang Aeneas in ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(Ernest Hare )

(b Dunedin, Oct 7, 1925; d Aldeburgh, Dec 25, 2001). New Zealand baritone . He studied in New Zealand, making his début in 1948 as Escamillo, and then in London. At Covent Garden he created Donald (Billy Budd) in 1951. For the WNO (1956–72) his roles included Schaunard, Sharpless, Ferrando (Il trovatore), Germont, Pagano (I Lombardi), Monterone, Zaccaria and the title role of Nabucco, Gesler (Guillaume Tell), Macbeth and Mr Flint (Billy Budd). He created the Traveller in Curlew River (1964); the Abbot/Astrologer in The Burning Fiery Furnace (1966) and the Elder Son in The Prodigal Son (1968) at Orford Church; Joe Buston in Gardner’s The Visitors (1972) and Mr Lamb in The Voice of Ariadne (1974) at Aldeburgh. He was director of opera at the RCM (...

Article

Roger Covell

[Geater, Margaret ]

(b Brisbane, Oct 16, 1932; d Brisbane, April 1, 2009). Australian mezzo-soprano . Her teachers included Pauline Bindley in Melbourne and Harold Williams in Sydney. She made her début as Carmen (1953, Brisbane) with the Sydney-based National Opera of Australia, followed by Azucena (1954), Suzuki and Siebel. In ...

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Roger Covell

(b Melbourne, Oct 20, 1931). Australian contralto. Born into a musical family, she studied the violin and singing, appeared with the National Theatre Movement in several major productions and worked with Dominique Modesti in Paris. She began singing for the Covent Garden company on provincial tours in 1957...

Article

Roger Covell

(b Perth, 4 Nov ?1947). Australian soprano . After a début as Micaëla with the Western Australian Opera Company she was a prizewinner in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 1968 and then made a pert and graceful début with the Australian Opera as Oscar, rapidly becoming one of the company’s most favoured young sopranos in both lyric and florid roles. From 1974 to 1981 she maintained a full-time operatic career in the USA, an unusual achievement for an Australian. Her roles with the New York City Opera included Micaëla, Mélisande (successfully essayed at short notice, 1976), Poppaea, Susanna, Mimì and Liù. Among many other North American and European appearances, she has sung Ilia at Glyndebourne and Sophie and Titania for Scottish Opera. As her luminous Juliet demonstrates, she is almost ideally endowed for opera, but her obvious calculation of artifice in voice and manner has sometimes seemed to hinder her communication with an audience....

Article

J.B. Steane

(b Melbourne, Aug 13, 1920; d Sydney, June 5, 2006). Australian soprano. She trained first as a ballerina, then joined the Melbourne Opera School to study singing in 1947. With the Australian National Theatre Movement (1950–55) she appeared in such leading roles as Donna Anna, Elsa and Desdemona before becoming principal lyric-dramatic soprano at Sadler’s Wells. Her Violetta in La traviata won much admiration, her Minnie in La fanciulla del West still more. In 1961 her Ariadne was praised for its ‘stream of golden sound’, and her Ellen Orford (Peter Grimes) was among the highlights of the company’s German tour in 1965. At Covent Garden she appeared in 1965 as Aida and Giorgetta (Il tabarro). In 1970 she returned to Australia, where she sang in the opening season of the Sydney Opera House (1973). Her full-bodied tone and direct expression can be heard in recordings of excerpts from operas given at Sadler’s Wells. Unfortunately she did not record Gardner’s ...

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Roger Covell

(Joseph )

(b Padstow, Cornwall, March 7, 1927). Australian tenor of English birth . After training (with Dino Borgioli) and early experience in England, in 1960 he toured Australia, where he has established a strong reputation in traditional character parts, debonair leading roles and cogent interpretations of important 20th-century roles, most for Australian Opera. A superb Quint and Prologue, Albert and Mayor and Male Chorus in Britten’s operas, he earned special praise for his Aschenbach, eventually appearing in the film of ...

Article

Alan Blyth

(Scantlebury)

(b Sydney, Sept 11, 1930). Australian bass. He studied in Sydney, making his début there in 1951 as Raimondo. In 1966 he joined Sadler’s Wells, where his roles included Silva (Ernani), Padre Guardiano, Seneca (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Sarastro, the Commendatore, Pogner, Hunding, Hagen, Philip II, Count des Grieux and Raleigh (Gloriana), which he also sang in Vienna. He made his San Francisco début in 1966 as Lord Walton (I puritani), later singing the King (Aida), Alidoro, Oroveso, Matteo (Fra Diavolo), Trulove, Monterone and Phorcas (Esclarmonde), which he also sang at the Metropolitan (1977). At Glyndebourne he sang Neptune (Il ritorno d’Ulisse) in 1972. He made his Covent Garden début in 1974 as Mozart’s Bartolo. Returning to Sydney in 1976 he sang Nilakantha (Lakmé), Pimen, Friar Laurence and a Colonist in Meale’s ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Melbourne, Nov 4, 1946). Australian soprano. She studied in Australia and London, making her début in 1971 with Australian Opera as Barbarina. She sang Natasha (War and Peace) at the opening of the Sydney Opera House (1973) and also sang Zerlina, Cherubino, Mimì, Leïla, Janáček’s Vixen, Blanche (Dialogues des Carmélites) and Santuzza. In 1977 she made her British début at Glyndebourne as the Vixen and sang Salome (Hérodiade) at Wexford. With the ENO (1978–87) she has sung Pamina, Susanna, Lauretta, Marzelline, Natasha, Mélisande, Poppaea, Rusalka, the Governess (The Turn of the Screw), Kát’a, the Duchess of Parma/Helen of Troy (Doktor Faust), Pauline (Toussaint l’ouverture) and Míla (Osud); her roles for Opera North include Tatyana. She made her Covent Garden début in 1987 as Nice Caroline (Sallinen’s The King Goes Forth to France...

Article

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 ...

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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 (...