Opera Scotland

Edith Coates Suggest updates

Born Lincoln, 31 May 1908.

Died Worthing, 7 January 1983.

English mezzo-soprano.

Edith Coates studied in London (Trinity College of Music) and with Clive Carey and Dino Borgioli. She was awarded the OBE in 1977.

Her career began in 1924 as a straight actress with Lilian Baylis's Old Vic Shakespeare Company. in A Midsummer Night's Dream. She soon transferred to the opera company, initially in the chorus. Her first small role was Giovanna in Rigoletto.  At this period she also sang Lazarillo (Maritana), Frédéric (Mignon), and Siébel in Faust. She soon progressed to heavier roles such as Azucena, Giulietta and Queen of the Gipsies.

The opera company transferred from the Old Vic to Sadler's Wells in 1931, and Coates sang a long series of leading roles including Delilah, Carmen, Amneris, Ortrud and Fricka. Russian roles included Olga (Eugene Onegin), the Nurse (Boris Godunov) and Lel (The Snow Maiden). British roles in her repertoire included Aunt Jane (High the Drover), Thirza (The Wreckers) and Dido.

In 1947 she joined the new company at Covent Garden, staying until 1963. To her earlier repertoire of Bizet, Verdi and Wagner she added parts such as Herodias and Klytemnestra.

She created Auntie (Peter Grimes 1945), Madame Bardeau (The Olympians 1949), and Grandma in The Parlour by Grace Williams (Welsh National Opera 1966).. 

Late in her career she sang character roles with Sadler's Wells such as the Countess (The Queen of Spades) and Mother Goose (The Rake's Progress). As late as 1971 she sang the Hostess in Boris Godunov with Welsh National Opera.

Roles in Scotland

Flora Bervoix Violetta's friend
Traviata 1941
Azucena a Biscayan gypsy woman
Trovatore 1942
Trovatore 1953
Rosina Bartolo's ward
Barbiere di Siviglia 1942
Barbiere di Siviglia 1944
Third Lady in attendance on the Queen
Zauberflöte 1942
Maddalena sister of Sparafucile
Rigoletto 1942
Rigoletto 1947
Rigoletto 1951
Zita a cousin of Buoso, aged sixty
Gianni Schicchi 1944
Frugola Talpa's wife, aged fifty
Tabarro 1944
Suzuki Cio-Cio-San's servant
Madam Butterfly 1944
Amneris daughter of the King of Egypt
Aïda 1950
Aïda 1952
Madame Bardeau Landlady of the 'Golden Duck'
Olympians 1950
Auntie landlady of 'The Boar'
Peter Grimes 1950
Marcellina Bartolo's housekeeper
Nozze di Figaro 1951
Nozze di Figaro 1953
Herodias wife of Herod
Salome 1952
Mamzell Arvidson a fortune-teller (Ulrica)
Masked Ball 1953
Antonia's mother a spirit voice
Tales of Hoffmann 1955
Mrs Diana Trapes
Beggar's Opera 1963
Mother Goose keeper of the brothel
Rake's Progress 1969

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