Elizabeth Connell

Last updated

Elizabeth Connell
Born(1946-10-22)22 October 1946
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Died 18 February 2012(2012-02-18) (aged 65)
London, England
Occupation Soprano Mezzo-soprano
Subject Music

Frances Elizabeth Connell [1] (22 October 1946 18 February 2012) was a South African-born operatic mezzo-soprano, and later soprano, whose career took place mainly in the United Kingdom and Australia.


Connell was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 1946, to an English Catholic father from Yorkshire and an Irish Protestant mother from Ulster, [2] [3] one of five children. [1] She read music at the University of the Witwatersrand, and after taking her degree, taught geography in secondary school.

Port Elizabeth Place in Eastern Cape, South Africa

Port Elizabeth or The Bay is one of the major cities in South Africa; it is situated in the Eastern Cape Province, 770 km (478 mi) east of Cape Town. The city, often shortened to PE and nicknamed "The Windy City", stretches for 16 km along Algoa Bay, and is one of the major seaports in South Africa. Port Elizabeth is the southernmost large city on the African continent, just farther south than Cape Town. Port Elizabeth was founded as a town in 1820 to house British settlers as a way of strengthening the border region between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa. It now forms part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, which has a population of over 1.3 million.

University of the Witwatersrand public research university in Johannesburg, South Africa

The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, is a multi-campus South African public research university situated in the northern areas of central Johannesburg. It is more commonly known as Wits University or Wits. The university has its roots in the mining industry, as do Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand in general. Founded in 1896 as the South African School of Mines in Kimberley, it is the third oldest South African university in continuous operation.

Connell attained an opera scholarship to the London Opera Centre, [3] and came to the UK in 1970. [4] Her teachers there included Otakar Kraus, who told her that 'one day you'll be a dramatic soprano'. In 1972, she was a winner of the Maggie Teyte prize for young musicians, and also made her professional debut at Wexford Festival Opera, as she was not able initially to appear in British opera houses, [3] as a white South African during the era of apartheid. [1] She attained Irish citizenship via her grandfather. [1] She read music at the University of the Witwatersrand, and after taking her degree, taught geography in secondary school. At the invitation of Edward Downes, she sang at the opening of the Sydney Opera House in Prokofiev's War and Peace in 1973, as Princess Marya, and continued to have a special relationship with Opera Australia for the rest of her career. Her UK career attained greater prominence after her appearance at the 1975 First Night of The Proms in Mahler's Symphony No 8. [3] She then had a regular five-year association with English National Opera.

The London Opera Centre, a school for the training of opera singers and other opera professionals, existed in England between 1963 and 1977. It was located in the former Troxy Cinema on Commercial Road in London's East End Borough of Stepney. The Troxy, with 3,520 seats, opened in 1933 and was one of England's largest cinemas. As a result of wartime damage and the general decline of the area, the cinema closed in November 1960.

Otakar Kraus was a Czech, operatic baritone and teacher.

Wexford Festival Opera

The Wexford Festival Opera is an opera festival that takes place in the town of Wexford in south-eastern Ireland during the months of October and November.

In 1983, Connell transitioned to singing full-time as a soprano, by cancelling all of her engagements for mezzo parts, and taking time to avoid speaking or singing, with subsequent gradual transition into soprano roles. Her early performances as a soprano included Corine from Luigi Cherubini's Anacréon , Fiordiligi ( Così fan tutte ) and Julia in Gasparo Spontini's La Vestale . Her The Metropolitan Opera debut was in 1985, as Vitellia ( La clemenza di Tito ), and her Opéra de Paris debut was in 1987 as Senta ( The Flying Dutchman ). [2] In 2004, she sang Leonore in a performance of Fidelio by Cape Town Opera staged at Robben Island, 10 years after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison there. [2]

Luigi Cherubini Italian composer

Luigi Cherubini was an Italian Classical and pre-Romantic composer. His most significant compositions are operas and sacred music. Beethoven regarded Cherubini as the greatest of his contemporaries.

<i>Anacréon</i> (Cherubini) opera by Cherubini

Anacréon, ou L'amour fugitif is an opera-ballet in two acts by Luigi Cherubini with a French libretto by C. R. Mendouze. It was premiered on 4 October 1803 by the Paris Opéra at the Salle Montansier. The choreography was by Pierre-Gabriel Gardel. The work proved to be a complete failure, ending its run on 1 January 1804 after only seven performances. The subject matter, a love affair of the Ancient Greek poet Anacreon, was completely alien to the spirit of the time. One critic complained that in his protagonist Cherubini had represented "un vieux debauché déguisé en héros d'opéra".

<i>Così fan tutte</i> Italian language opera buffa by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti, K. 588, is an Italian-language opera buffa in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart first performed on 26 January 1790 at the Burgtheater in Vienna, Austria. The libretto was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte who also wrote Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni.

Connell's final performance was a recital on 27 November 2011 in Hastings. [3] She had intended to retire to Australia, but the diagnosis of her cancer prevented this. She died in London on 18 February 2012, aged 65. She married baritone Robert Eddie in 1987; the marriage ended in dissolution. [1] Her three brothers John, Peter, and Paul, and her sister Rosemary survive her. [4]

Hastings Town and Borough in United Kingdom

Hastings is a town and borough in East Sussex on the south coast of England, 24 mi (39 km) east of the county town of Lewes and 53 mi (85 km) south east of London. It has an estimated population of 90,254.


Her many recordings include Rossini's Guglielmo Tell (Decca, Riccardo Chailly), Mahler's Eighth Symphony (EMI, Klaus Tennstedt), Mendelssohn's Second Symphony (DG, Claudio Abbado), Franz Schreker's Die Gezeichneten (Decca, Lothar Zagrosek), Gaetano Donizetti's Poliuto (NuovaEra, Jan Latham-Koenig, Live Opera di Roma), Giuseppe Verdi's I due Foscari (Philips, Lamberto Gardelli), Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder (Denon, Eliahu Inbal), Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (Squires Productions, Eve Queler, Carnegie Hall Live 1997) and Schubert Lieder with Graham Johnson, as part of Hyperion Records Complete Schubert Edition.

Gioachino Rossini 19th-century Italian opera composer

Gioachino Antonio Rossini was an Italian composer who gained fame for his 39 operas, although he also wrote many songs, some chamber music and piano pieces, and some sacred music. He set new standards for both comic and serious opera before retiring from large-scale composition while still in his thirties, at the height of his popularity.

<i>William Tell</i> (opera) opera by Gioacchino Rossini

William Tell is a French-language opera in four acts by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by Victor-Joseph Étienne de Jouy and L. F. Bis, based on Friedrich Schiller's play William Tell, which, in turn, drew on the William Tell legend. The opera was Rossini's last, although he lived for nearly 40 more years. Fabio Luisi said that Rossini planned for William Tell to be his last opera even as he composed it. The often-performed overture in four sections features a depiction of a storm and a vivacious finale, the "March of the Swiss Soldiers."

Riccardo Chailly Italian conductor

Riccardo Chailly, is an Italian conductor. He started his career as an opera conductor and gradually extended his repertoire to encompass symphonic music.

In 2008, two important CD releases were added to her discography: Her first operatic recital, singing great scenes by Wagner and Strauss for ABC Classics, conducted by Muhai Tang, and Benjamin Britten's Owen Wingrave , conducted by Richard Hickox. Elizabeth Connell also recorded portions of Sir Granville Bantock's "The Song of Songs" under the baton of Vernon Handley, for Hyperion.

And opera performance's TV recordings are also released as DVD. Lohengrin (1982 Bayreuth Festival, dir Götz Friedrich, EuroArts), Nabucco (1996 Opera Australia/Sydney Opera House, ABC - Opus Arte/Kultur), Hänsel und Gretel (1998, The Royal Opera/Royal Opera House, Opus Arte, DVD/Blu-ray).

Related Research Articles

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau German lyric baritone and conductor

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was a German lyric baritone and conductor of classical music, one of the most famous Lieder performers of the post-war period, best known as a singer of Franz Schubert's Lieder, particularly "Winterreise" of which his recordings with accompanist Gerald Moore and Jörg Demus are still critically acclaimed half a century after their release.

Janet Baker Opera and concert singer

Dame Janet Abbott Baker is an English mezzo-soprano best known as an opera, concert, and lieder singer.

The Gramophone Classical Music Awards, launched in 1977, are one of the most significant honours bestowed on recordings in the classical record industry. They are often viewed as equivalent to or surpassing the American Grammy award, and referred to as the Oscars for classical music. They are widely regarded as the most influential and prestigious classical music awards in the world.

Jessye Norman American opera singer

Jessye Mae Norman is an American opera singer and recitalist. A dramatic soprano, Norman is associated in particular with the Wagnerian repertoire, and with the roles of Sieglinde, Ariadne, Alceste, and Leonore. Norman has been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and is a Spingarn Medalist. Apart from receiving several honorary doctorates and other awards, she has also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Medal of Arts, and is a member of the British Royal Academy of Music.

Karita Marjatta Mattila is a Finnish operatic soprano.

Elly Ameling singer

Elisabeth Sara “Elly” Ameling is a Dutch soprano who was particularly known internationally for lieder recitals and for singing works by Johann Sebastian Bach. Performing with notable pianists and ensembles around the globe, she was awarded honours and recording prizes.

Nell Rankin singer

Nell Rankin was an American operatic mezzo-soprano. Though a successful opera singer internationally, she spent most of her career at the Metropolitan Opera, where she worked from 1951 to 1976. She was particularly admired for her portrayals of Amneris in Verdi's Aida and the title role in Bizet's Carmen. Opera News said, "Her full, generous tone and bold phrasing, especially in the Italian repertory, were unique among American mezzos of her generation.

Cheryl Studer is an American dramatic soprano who has sung at many of the world's foremost opera houses. Studer has performed more than eighty roles ranging from the dramatic repertoire to roles more commonly associated with lyric sopranos and coloratura sopranos, and, in her late stage, mezzo-sopranos. She is particularly known for her interpretations of the works of Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner.

Gwyneth Jones (soprano) Welsh operatic soprano

Dame Gwyneth Jones, is a Welsh operatic dramatic soprano.

Irmgard Seefried singer

Irmgard Seefried was a distinguished German soprano who sang opera, sacred music, and lieder.

Ann Murray Operatic soprano

Ann Murray, is an Irish mezzo-soprano.

Soile Marja Isokoski is a Finnish lyric soprano. She is an opera singer as well as a concert and lieder singer.

Violeta Urmana singer

Violeta Urmana is Lithuanian opera singer who has sung leading mezzo-soprano and soprano roles in the opera houses of Europe and North America.

Alessandra Marc is an American dramatic soprano who has appeared at many of the world's opera houses and orchestras. Marc is particularly known for her interpretations of the works of Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, Giuseppe Verdi, music of the Second Viennese School, and the title role in Puccini's Turandot.

Dorothea Röschmann is a German opera soprano from Flensburg.

Lauris Margaret Elms AM OBE is an Australian contralto, renowned in opera and lieder.

Bernadette Eileen Cullen is an Australian Dramatic Mezzo-soprano who has encomposed all the great leading operatic mezzo roles and concert repertoire in Australia and throughout Europe and Asia.

Hermine Haselböck is an Austrian mezzo-soprano in opera, concert and lied.

Katarina Karnéus Swedish singer

Katarina Esmé Marie Karnéus is a Swedish mezzo-soprano opera singer, winner of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, active on many of the opera world's major stages such as the Metropolitan Opera and the Paris Opera, and named Hovsångerska by the King of Sweden in 2018.

Petra Lang is a German opera singer. Beginning as a mezzo-soprano, from 2012 a soprano, she is known for her interpretation of music by Richard Wagner and Gustav Mahler. She made an international career in both opera and concert. She has performed at the Bayreuth Festival from 2005, singing the title role of Isolde in 2016.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Elizabeth Connell". The Australian. 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2015-08-12.
  2. 1 2 3 Elizabeth Forbes (2012-02-27). "Elizabeth Connell: Mezzo and soprano acclaimed for her Verdi and Wagner interpretations". The Independent. Retrieved 2015-08-12.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Elizabeth Connell". Telegraph. 2012-02-20. Retrieved 2015-08-12.
  4. 1 2 Barry Millington (2012-02-19). "Elizabeth Connell obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-08-12.