Josephine Barstow

Last updated

Josephine Barstow

Born (1940-09-27) 27 September 1940 (age 78)
Alma mater University of Birmingham
Occupation Opera singer
Terry Hands
(m. 1964;div. 1967)

Dame Josephine Clare Barstow, DBE (born 27 September 1940) is an English opera singer and soprano.

English people Nation and ethnic group native to England

The English people are a nation and an ethnic group native to England who speak the English language. The English identity is of early medieval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Angelcynn. Their ethnonym is derived from the Angles, one of the Germanic peoples who migrated to Great Britain around the 5th century AD. England is one of the countries of the United Kingdom, and the majority of people living there are British citizens.

A soprano[soˈpraːno] is a type of classical female singing voice and has the highest vocal range of all voice types. The soprano's vocal range (using scientific pitch notation) is from approximately middle C (C4) = 261 Hz to "high A" (A5) =880 Hz in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) =1046 Hz or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which often encompasses the melody. The soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, soubrette, lyric, spinto, and dramatic soprano.


Education and early career

Josephine Barstow was born in Sheffield and educated at the University of Birmingham. She made her professional debut (Mimì in La bohème ) with the touring company Opera for All in 1964. She won a scholarship to study during 1965-66 at the London Opera Centre, where she met her husband Ande Anderson (d. 1996). During the following season, she sang Gluck's Euridice and Verdi's Violetta for the Sadler's Wells Opera Company and in 1968 she began a three-year contract with Welsh National Opera. In 1969 she made her Royal Opera debut as one of the nieces in Peter Grimes

Sheffield City and Metropolitan borough in England

Sheffield is a city and metropolitan borough in South Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, its name derives from the River Sheaf, which runs through the city. With some of its southern suburbs annexed from Derbyshire, the city has grown from its largely industrial roots to encompass a wider economic base. The population of the City of Sheffield is 577,800 (mid-2017 est.) and it is one of the eight largest regional English cities that make up the Core Cities Group. Sheffield is the third-largest English district by population. The metropolitan population of Sheffield is 1,569,000.

University of Birmingham university in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom

The University of Birmingham is a public research university located in Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom. It received its royal charter in 1900 as a successor to Queen's College, Birmingham and Mason Science College, making it the first English civic or 'red brick' university to receive its own royal charter. It is a founding member of both the Russell Group of British research universities and the international network of research universities, Universitas 21.

<i>La bohème</i> opera by Giacomo Puccini

La bohème is an opera in four acts, composed by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger. The world premiere of La bohème was in Turin on 1 February 1896 at the Teatro Regio, conducted by the 28-year-old Arturo Toscanini. Since then, La bohème has become part of the standard Italian opera repertory and is one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide.

Subsequent career

Among other roles with the Royal Opera, she has sung Alice Ford ( Falstaff ), Santuzza ( Cavalleria rusticana ), Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes, Leonore ( Fidelio ) and the Old Countess ( The Queen of Spades ). She also appeared in the world premières of two operas by Sir Michael Tippett: The Knot Garden (as Denise) and The Ice Break (as Gayle).

<i>Falstaff</i> (opera) opera by Giuseppe Verdi

Falstaff is a comic opera in three acts by the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto was adapted by Arrigo Boito from Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Henry IV, parts 1 and 2. The work premiered on 9 February 1893 at La Scala, Milan.

<i>Cavalleria rusticana</i> opera by Pietro Mascagni

Cavalleria rusticana is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni to an Italian libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, adapted from an 1880 short story of the same name and subsequent play by Giovanni Verga. Considered one of the classic verismo operas, it premiered on 17 May 1890 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. Since 1893, it has often been performed in a so-called Cav/Pag double-bill with Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo.

<i>Fidelio</i> opera by Ludwig van Beethoven

Fidelio, Op. 72, is Ludwig van Beethoven's only opera. The German libretto was originally prepared by Joseph Sonnleithner from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly, with the work premiering at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 20 November 1805. The following year, Stephan von Breuning helped shorten the work from three acts to two. After further work on the libretto by Georg Friedrich Treitschke, a final version was performed at the Kärntnertortheater on 23 May 1814. By convention, both of the first two versions are referred to as Leonore.

At Glyndebourne, she has appeared as Lady Macbeth, Elettra ( Idomeneo ) and Leonore. Roles with English National Opera include an acclaimed Violetta, Emilia Marty ( The Makropulos Case ), Natasha in the British stage première of War and Peace and the title roles in Salome, Aida, Arabella, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Der Rosenkavalier . Rehearsals for Salome and an interview with Barstow were featured in a December 1975 episode of the BBC television programme Arena.

Glyndebourne Festival Opera English opera festival

Glyndebourne Festival Opera is an annual opera festival held at Glyndebourne, an English country house near Lewes, in East Sussex, England.

<i>Idomeneo</i> opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Idomeneo, re di Creta ossia Ilia e Idamante is an Italian language opera seria by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto was adapted by Giambattista Varesco from a French text by Antoine Danchet, which had been set to music by André Campra as Idoménée in 1712. Mozart and Varesco were commissioned in 1780 by Karl Theodor, Elector of Bavaria for a court carnival. He probably chose the subject, though it might have been Mozart. The work premiered on 29 January 1781 at the Cuvilliés Theatre in Munich, Germany.

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.

Among other engagements outside the British Isles, she has appeared at the New York Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Vienna State Opera and the Bayreuth Festival. Latterly, she has performed a number of roles with Opera North, including Alice Ford, Lady Macbeth, Kostelnicka in Jenůfa , Marie in Wozzeck , Lady Billows in Albert Herring and in the title roles of Gloriana , Médée and Aida.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Metropolitan Opera opera company in Manhattan, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Lyric Opera of Chicago non-profit organisation in the USA

Lyric Opera of Chicago is one of the leading opera companies in the United States. It was founded in Chicago in 1954, under the name 'Lyric Theatre of Chicago' by Carol Fox, Nicolà Rescigno and Lawrence Kelly, with a season that included Maria Callas's American debut in Norma. The company was re-organized by Fox in 1956 under its present name and, after her 1981 departure, it has continued to be of one of the major opera companies in the United States. The Lyric is housed in the Civic Opera Building, which the company now owns.

On 22 March 1986 Barstow reprised her role as Salome, this time at the Seattle Opera House, performing the Dance of the Seven Veils. She danced a choreography by Mark Morris, wearing a costume designed by Sarah Nash Gates, involving the literal removal of seven veils. At the end of the number Barstow was wearing only a G-string. [1]

Dance of the Seven Veils

The Dance of the Seven Veils is Salome's dance performed before Herod II. It is an elaboration on the biblical story of the execution of John the Baptist, which refers to Salome dancing before the king, but does not give the dance a name.

Mark Morris (choreographer) American ballet dancer and choreographer

Mark William Morris is an American dancer, choreographer and director whose work is acclaimed for its craftsmanship, ingenuity, humor, and at times eclectic musical accompaniments. Morris is popular among dance aficionados, the music world, as well as mainstream audiences.

Sarah Nash Gates

Sarah Nash Gates was a Seattle-based costume designer, and theatre arts professor at the University of Washington. She served as the president of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) from 1991 to 1994. From 1994 to 2014 she served as the executive director of the School of Drama at the University of Washington.

In October 2011 she appeared as the Countess in The Queen of Spades , also with Opera North.

Barstow plays Heidi Schiller in the National Theatre's 2017 production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies .

Personal life

Barstow was married to Terry Hands from 1964 to 1967, and then to Ande Anderson from 1968 until his death in 1996.[ citation needed ]

Selected recordings




Josephine Barstow was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1995. Dame Josephine Barstow is currently represented by Musichall Ltd.

Related Research Articles

Ileana Cotrubaș is a Romanian opera soprano whose career spanned from the 1960s to the 1980s. She was much admired for her acting skills and facility for singing opera in many different languages.

Leonie Rysanek singer

Leopoldine "Leonie" Rysanek was an Austrian dramatic soprano.

Elena Souliotis Greek singer

Elena Souliotis was a Greek operatic soprano.

Anja Silja Operatic soprano

Anja Silja Regina Langwagen is a German soprano who is known for her great abilities as a singing-actress and for the vastness of her repertoire.

Gwyneth Jones (soprano) Welsh operatic soprano

Dame Gwyneth Jones, is a Welsh operatic dramatic soprano.

Eliane Coelho is a Brazilian soprano singer. She was a soprano in the Frankfurt Opera and performed dozens of roles at the Vienna Staatsoper.

Karan Armstrong Operatic soprano

Karan Armstrong is an American operatic soprano, who is celebrated as a singing-actress.

Ramón Vargas Mexican opera singer

Ramón Vargas is a Mexican operatic tenor. Since his debut in the early '90s, he has developed to become one of the most acclaimed tenors of the 21st century. Known for his most expressive and agile lyric tenor voice, he is especially successful in the bel canto repertoire.

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.

Sylvia Sass Hungarian opera singer

Sylvia Sass is a Hungarian operatic soprano who has sung leading roles both in her native country and internationally.

Marisa Galvany is an American soprano who had an active international career performing in operas and concerts up into the early 2000s. Known for the great intensity of her performances, Galvany particularly excelled in portraying Verdi heroines. She was notably a regular performer at the New York City Opera between 1972 and 1983.

Janice Baird is an American dramatic soprano, best known for her interpretation of Wagner and Strauss. Baird was born in New York City.

Sylvia Stahlman was an American soprano, particularly associated with light, coloratura roles.

Sona Ghazarian is an Armenian-Austrian operatic soprano. A Kammersängerin of the Republic of Austria, she has sung over 70 roles in the major opera houses of both Europe and the United States.

William Cochran is an internationally noted Heldentenor. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Martial Singher. A winner of the Lauritz Melchior Heldentenor Foundation Award, he debuted with the Metropolitan Opera, as Vogelgesang in Die Meistersinger, in 1968. The next year, he sang Froh, in Das Rheingold, with the San Francisco Opera.

Rae Woodland was a British soprano who studied with Roy Henderson. Her debut was as Queen of the Night at Sadlers Wells. She sang in many European festivals, and debuted at Covent Garden in La sonnambula with Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti. She was first asked to sing for Benjamin Britten on the English Opera Group's tour of Russia, and played many roles for him subsequently. She also created roles for Gottfried von Einem, Nicholas Maw and Sir Arthur Bliss, and made many live broadcasts for the BBC, from the RAH Proms to Friday Night is Music Night. She retired from the opera stage in 1984. She then taught singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and at the Britten-Pears School in Snape Maltings on the invitation of Sir Peter Pears.

Nadja Michael German operatic soprano

Nadja Michael is a German opera singer with an active international career singing leading soprano roles. Her mother's great-aunt was the soprano Erna Sack.

Gladys Kuchta was an American operatic soprano who sang leading roles in opera houses worldwide including the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House, Bayreuth Festival, San Francisco Opera, and the Teatro Colón.

Sigutė Stonytė is a Lithuanian soprano and professor at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.

Hanne-Lore Kuhse was a German operatic soprano.


  1. Acocella, Joan Ross; Morris, Mark (2004). Mark Morris. Wesleyan University Press. pp. 62, 277. ISBN   9780819567314.