Amanda Holden (writer)

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Amanda Juliet Holden (born 19 January 1948) [1] is a British musician, librettist and translator.

Libretto text used for an extended musical work

A libretto is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata or musical. The term libretto is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as the Mass, requiem and sacred cantata, or the story line of a ballet.



Holden is the daughter of Sir Brian Warren and Dame Josephine Barnes, DBE. She was educated as Benenden School, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (where she gained a Master of Arts), Guildhall School of Music and Drama and American University, Washington (MA). She also has degrees from the Royal Academy of Music (ARCM and LRAM). [1]

Josephine Barnes British obstetrician and gynaecologist

Dame Alice Josephine Mary Taylor Barnes,, known professionally as Dr Josephine Barnes, was a leading English obstetrician and gynaecologist. She was the first female president of the British Medical Association, 1979. Barnes was also active in the Women's National Cancer Control Campaign with cancer screening.

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford college of the University of Oxford

Lady Margaret Hall (LMH) is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, located on the banks of the River Cherwell at Norham Gardens in north Oxford and adjacent to the University Parks. The college is more formally known under its current royal charter as "The Principal and Fellows of the College of the Lady Margaret in the University of Oxford".

A Master of Arts is a person who was admitted to a type of master's degree awarded by universities in many countries, and the degree is also named Master of Arts in colloquial speech. The degree is usually contrasted with the Master of Science. Those admitted to the degree typically study linguistics, history, communication studies, diplomacy, public administration, political science, or other subjects within the scope of the humanities and social sciences; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the natural sciences and mathematics. The degree can be conferred in respect of completing courses and passing examinations, research, or a combination of the two.


She translated the libretto of Don Giovanni for Jonathan Miller in 1985. [2] Her librettos include Bliss , for Brett Dean and The Silver Tassie , for which she was joint winner, with composer Mark-Anthony Turnage, of the Outstanding Achievement in Opera Laurence Olivier Award in 2001. [1] [2] She made a "highly acclaimed translation" of Puccini's Madama Butterfly for David Freeman's production at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011. [3] Holden prepared the "deft" narration for a concert performance of the opera Der Freischütz presented by the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre, London, in April 2012 [4]

<i>Don Giovanni</i> opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Don Giovanni is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer. It was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the National Theater, now called the Estates Theatre, on 29 October 1787. Da Ponte's libretto was billed as a dramma giocoso, a common designation of its time that denotes a mixing of serious and comic action. Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an opera buffa. Although sometimes classified as comic, it blends comedy, melodrama and supernatural elements.

Jonathan Miller British medical doctor, neurologist, theatre director, etc. (born 1934)

Sir Jonathan Wolfe Miller, CBE is an English theatre and opera director, actor, author, television presenter, humourist, and medical doctor. After training in medicine, and specialising in neurology, in the late 1950s, he came to prominence in the early 1960s in the comedy revue Beyond the Fringe with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett.

Bliss is an opera in three acts by Brett Dean to a libretto by Amanda Holden. The libretto is based on Peter Carey's novel Bliss, which had earlier been made into the 1985 film Bliss. The opera premiered at the Sydney Opera House on 12 March 2010 and has subsequently been performed in the United Kingdom and Germany. A performance of the work lasts for about two hours and forty minutes.


Holden's publications include contributions to The Mozart Compendium in 1990, the New Penguin Opera Guide in 2001 and the Penguin Concise Guide to Opera in 2005. [1] James Oestreich, writing in The New York Times , described the New Penguin Opera Guide as a "valuable source" and "most impressive", though he would have liked the index to cover performers, places and events – rather than just the composers and librettists. [5]

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 125 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.

Many of her opera translations are commissioned by the English National Opera. [6] The Age compared Holden's partnership with composer Brett Dean in "long-distance collaboration" to "the great composer-librettist partnerships" of "Mozart and da Ponte, or Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal" who "did not have email or jet planes". [7] Critic Bernard Holland, writing in The New York Times about H. K. Gruber's Gloria: A Pigtale, thought it heavy-handed but "rescued by Amanda Holden's clever English version". [8]

English National Opera opera company based in London

English National Opera (ENO) is an opera company based in London, resident at the London Coliseum in St Martin's Lane. It is one of the two principal opera companies in London, along with The Royal Opera, Covent Garden. ENO's productions are sung in English.

<i>The Age</i> Melbourne daily newspaper

The Age is a daily newspaper that has been published in Melbourne, Australia, since 1854. Owned and published by Nine, The Age primarily serves Victoria but is also available for purchase in Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and border regions of South Australia and southern New South Wales. It is delivered in both hardcopy and online formats. The newspaper shares many articles with other Fairfax Media metropolitan daily newspapers, such as The Sydney Morning Herald.

Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian librettist

Lorenzo Da Ponte was an Italian, later American opera librettist, poet and Roman Catholic priest. He wrote the libretti for 28 operas by 11 composers, including three of Mozart's most celebrated operas, Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and Così fan tutte.


Holden has appeared on Deutsche Welle's Inspired Minds talking about her work on opera libretti. [9]

Deutsche Welle international German public radio and television channel

Deutsche Welle or DW is Germany's public international broadcaster. The service is available in 30 languages. DW's satellite television service consists of channels in English, German, Spanish, and Arabic. While funded by the German government, the work of DW is regulated by the Deutsche Welle Act, meaning that content is always independent of government influence. DW is a member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Personal life

She married Anthony Holden in 1971. They have three sons and divorced in 1988. [1]


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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Who's Who 2012
  2. 1 2 "Amanda Holden - Opera Australia".
  3. "About the Hall". Royal Albert Hall. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  4. Shirley, Hugo (20 April 2012). "Der Freischütz, LSO, Barbican". The Daily Telegraph . London. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  5. Oestreich, James R. (1 September 2002). "High Notes: Covering Opera, if not its world". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  6. "Penguin Books".
  7. Shmith, Michael (11 May 2009). "Opera as bliss and hell". The Age. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  8. Holland, Bernard (29 July 2002). "Critic's Notebook; Mining Music in Breathtaking Mountains". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  9. "Opera Librettist Amanda Holden". Deutsche Welle. 6 December 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2012.