Monica Sinclair (23 March 1925 –7 May 2002) was a British operatic contralto, who sang many roles with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden during the 1950s and 1960s, and appeared on stage and in recordings with Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Callas, Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Malcolm Sargent and many others. She had a great gift for comedy, and sang in recordings of many of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, as well as in recordings from the standard operatic repertory.
A contralto is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range is the lowest female voice type.
Dame Joan Alston Sutherland, OM, AC, DBE was an Australian-born coloratura soprano noted for her contribution to the renaissance of the bel canto repertoire from the late 1950s through to the 1980s.
Luciano Pavarotti, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI was an Italian operatic tenor who also crossed over into popular music, eventually becoming one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time. He made numerous recordings of complete operas and individual arias, gaining worldwide fame for the quality of his tone, and eventually established himself as one of the finest tenors of the 20th century, achieving the honorific title "king of the high C's".
Monica Sinclair was born on 23 March 1925, in Evercreech, Somerset. Her music studies were at the Royal Academy of Music. She made her debut with the Carl Rosa Opera Company in 1948, singing Suzuki in Puccini's Madama Butterfly . Her Covent Garden debut came in 1949, as the Second boy in Mozart's The Magic Flute . Her early Covent Garden roles included Maddalena ( Rigoletto ), Mrs Sedley ( Peter Grimes ), Feodor ( Boris Godunov ), Rosette ( Manon ), Flosshilde ( Das Rheingold ), Siegrune ( Die Walküre ), Azucena ( Il trovatore ), Pauline ( The Queen of Spades ), Mercedes ( Carmen ) and the Voice of Antonia's Mother ( The Tales of Hoffmann ). She can be heard as the voice of Nicklaus in the 1951 Powell and Pressburger film The Tales of Hoffmann .
Evercreech is a village and civil parish 3 miles (4.8 km) south east of Shepton Mallet, and 5 miles (8.0 km) north east of Castle Cary, in the Mendip district of Somerset, England. The parish includes the hamlet of Stoney Stratton and the village of Chesterblade.
The Royal Academy of Music in London, England, is the oldest conservatoire in the UK, founded in 1822 by John Fane and Nicolas-Charles Bochsa. It received its Royal Charter in 1830 from King George IV with the support of the first Duke of Wellington. It is one of the leading conservatoires in the UK, rated fourth in the Complete University Guide and third in the Guardian University Guide for 2018. Famous Academy alumni include Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Sir Elton John and Annie Lennox.
The Carl Rosa Opera Company was founded in 1873 by Carl Rosa, a German-born musical impresario, to present opera in English in London and the British provinces. The company premiered many operas in the UK, employing a mix of established opera stars and young singers, reaching new opera audiences with popularly priced tickets. It survived Rosa's death in 1889, and continued to present opera in English on tour until 1960, when it was obliged to close for lack of funds. The company was revived in 1997, presenting mostly lighter operatic works including those by Gilbert and Sullivan. The company "was arguably the most influential opera company ever in the UK".
She made her Glyndebourne debut in 1954 in the comic role of Ragonde in the first British performance of Rossini's Le comte Ory . There she also sang Berta ( The Barber of Seville ), Marcellina ( The Marriage of Figaro ), Dryade ( Ariadne auf Naxos ), and Queen Henrietta ( I puritani , with Joan Sutherland). In 1965 she appeared in a television version of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny on BBC2 as Mrs Begbick.
Glyndebourne Festival Opera is an annual opera festival held at Glyndebourne, an English country house near Lewes, in East Sussex, England.
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.
Le comte Ory is a comic opera written by Gioachino Rossini in 1828. Some of the music originates from his opera Il viaggio a Reims written three years earlier for the coronation of Charles X. The French libretto was by Eugène Scribe and Charles-Gaspard Delestre-Poirson adapted from a comedy they had first written in 1817.
Returning to Covent Garden in 1959/60, Sinclair added some new roles to her repertoire – Annina ( Der Rosenkavalier , in Georg Solti's Covent Garden début, with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Sena Jurinac), Bradamante ( Alcina , directed and designed by Franco Zeffirelli, with Joan Sutherland in the title role), Theodosia ( Die schweigsame Frau ), the Old Prioress ( Dialogues des Carmélites ), Marfa ( Khovanshchina ), Emilia ( Otello ) and the Marquise de Birkenfeld ( La fille du régiment , with Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti). She also sang the Marquise at the Metropolitan Opera, New York.
Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59, is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It is loosely adapted from the novel Les amours du chevalier de Faublas by Louvet de Couvrai and Molière's comedy Monsieur de Pourceaugnac. It was first performed at the Königliches Opernhaus in Dresden on 26 January 1911 under the direction of Max Reinhardt, Ernst von Schuch conducting. Until the premiere the working title was Ochs auf Lerchenau.
Sir Georg Solti, was a Hungarian-born orchestral and operatic conductor, best known for his appearances with opera companies in Munich, Frankfurt and London, and as a long-serving music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Born in Budapest, he studied there with Béla Bartók, Leó Weiner and Ernő Dohnányi. In the 1930s, he was a répétiteur at the Hungarian State Opera and worked at the Salzburg Festival for Arturo Toscanini. His career was interrupted by the rise of the Nazis' influence on Hungarian politics, and being of Jewish background he fled the increasingly harsh Hungarian anti-Jewish laws in 1938. After conducting a season of Russian ballet in London at the Royal Opera House he found refuge in Switzerland, where he remained during the Second World War. Prohibited from conducting there, he earned a living as a pianist.
Dame Olga Maria Elisabeth Friederike Schwarzkopf, was a German-born Austro-British soprano. She was among the foremost singers of lieder, and was renowned for her performances of Viennese operetta, as well as the operas of Mozart, Wagner and Richard Strauss. After retiring from the stage, she was a voice teacher internationally. She is considered one of the greatest sopranos of the 20th century.
Her other international appearances included the title role in Lully's Armide at Bordeaux in 1955.
Jean-Baptiste Lully was an Italian-born French composer, instrumentalist, and dancer who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France. He is considered a master of the French Baroque style. Lully disavowed any Italian influence in French music of the period. He became a French subject in 1661.
Armide is an opera by Jean-Baptiste Lully. The libretto by Philippe Quinault is based on Torquato Tasso's poem La Gerusalemme liberata. The work is in the form of a tragédie en musique, a genre invented by Lully and Quinault.
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne in the Gironde department in Southwestern France.
Monica Sinclair created a number of roles (at Covent Garden unless indicated):
Ralph Vaughan Williams was an English composer. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over sixty years. Strongly influenced by Tudor music and English folk-song, his output marked a decisive break in British music from its German-dominated style of the 19th century.
The Pilgrim's Progress is an opera by Ralph Vaughan Williams, based on John Bunyan's allegory The Pilgrim's Progress. The composer himself described the work as a 'Morality' rather than an opera. Nonetheless, he intended the work to be performed on stage, rather than in a church or cathedral. Vaughan Williams himself prepared the libretto, with interpolations from the Bible and also text from his second wife, Ursula Wood. His changes to the story included altering the name of the central character from 'Christian' to 'Pilgrim', so as to universalise the spiritual message.
Alban Maria Johannes Berg was an Austrian composer of the Second Viennese School. His compositional style combined Romantic lyricism with twelve-tone technique.
Among Monica Sinclair's recordings are:
Monica Sinclair's marriage to Anthony Tunstall, a former Covent Garden horn player, with whom she had six children, did not survive.
She died in 2002, aged 77.
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.
Roy Galbraith Henderson CBE was a leading English baritone in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. He later became a teacher of singing, his most notable student being Kathleen Ferrier.
Sir John Michael Pritchard, CBE, born Stanley Frederick Pritchard, was an English conductor. He was known for his interpretations of Mozart operas and for his support of contemporary music.
Alberto Remedios was a British operatic tenor, especially noted for his interpretations of Wagner's heldentenor roles.
Margreta Elkins AM was an Australian mezzo-soprano. She sang at The Royal Opera and with Opera Australia and other companies, but turned down offers to sing at the Metropolitan Opera, Bayreuth and Glyndebourne. She recorded alongside sopranos such as Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland.
Spiro Samuel Malas was a Greek-American bass-baritone opera singer and actor.
Elizabeth Harwood was an English lyric soprano. After a music school, she enjoyed an operatic career lasting for over two decades and worked with such conductors as Colin Davis and Herbert von Karajan. She was one of the few English singers of her generation to be invited to sing in productions at the Salzburg Festival and La Scala, Milan, as well as at the Metropolitan Opera.
Muriel Brunskill was an English contralto of the mid-twentieth century. Her career included concert, operatic and recital performance from the early 1920s until the 1950s. She worked with many of the leading musicians of her day, including Sir Thomas Beecham, Albert Coates, Felix Weingartner and Sir Henry Wood.
Chris Merritt is an American tenor.
Dennis Noble was a noted British baritone and teacher. He appeared in opera, oratorio, musical comedy and song, from the First World War through to the late 1950s. He was renowned for his enunciation and diction. He became the most prolific radio broadcaster of his time.
Anna Justine Steiger is an American opera singer who has sung leading soprano and mezzo-soprano roles in British, European and North American opera houses. She has sung many recitals at festivals which have been broadcast live on the BBC, Radio France and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to name a few. In 2010, she was invited to participate in the Australian Chamber Music Festival. She is still active as a recitalist and opera singer. She also has a year one Master in Food History from the University François Rabelais de Tours, France.
Marjorie Gwendolen Thomas was an English opera and oratorio singer for almost three decades.
Isobel Buchanan is a Scottish operatic soprano.
Lauris Margaret Elms AM OBE is an Australian contralto, renowned in opera and lieder.
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.
Jeannette Sinclair is an English soprano. She sang a variety of roles as a principal soprano at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, during the 1950s and 1960s. Her work for the BBC encompassed opera, oratorio and many recitals of lieder, English song and French chanson, light music and appearances at the BBC Henry Wood Promenade concerts, 1960-9.
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.
John Ewen Cameron was an Australian baritone singer, who made most of his career in Britain. He became known for his portrayal of characters in modern operas by composers from Australia, Britain and continental Europe, and for his recordings with conductors such as Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Adrian Boult, the young Colin Davis, and particularly Sir Malcolm Sargent.
Emelie Hooke was an Australian soprano who was notable in opera, oratorio and concert, and sang in Australia, England, Europe and South Africa.