Opera Scotland

Elizabeth Robson Suggest updates

Elizabeth Howlett (married baritone Neil Howlett). 

Born Dundee, November 1938.

Scottish soprano.

Elizabeth Robson trained at the RSAMD in Glasgow, with a Sir James Caird scholarship (Caird having been a prosperous 'jute baron' in Dundee).  She spent the 1959 season at Glyndebourne, returning in 1960. Between these two seasons she travelled on a fifty date concert tour of the USA and Canada with the tenor Kenneth McKellar.  There was also a further three month period of study in Germany.  She then joined Sadler's Wells in 1961, appearing in a range of roles in opera and operetta, from Phyllis in Iolanthe and Yum-Yum, to Micaëla in Carmen.

At Covent Garden from 1965 she sang in works by Mozart,  Rossini,  Verdi,  Puccini,  Wagner,  Bizet,  Strauss,  Britten and others. She had particular success in roles such as Susanna,  Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream,  Micaëla,  Nannetta,  Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier and  Zdenka in Arabella.  Other parts included Woglinde in the Ring and a Flower Maiden in Parsifal as well as a Niece Peter Grimes and Frasquita Carmen.  She appeared with Welsh National as Nannetta.

On the continent she sang Susanna at the Aix-en-Provence Festival of 1968, returning the following season for Fiordiligi.  In the mid-sixties she spent several seasons in Germany as a resident member of the company at the Hamburg State Opera.

Her appearances with Scottish Opera began with Zerlina in 1964, and she returned for Nannetta in 1966 and Anne Trulove in 1967. In later years she sang Pamina, Countess Almaviva and Hanna Glawari.

Her recordings are rare, though her Micaëla is preserved in a disc of extracts from Sadler's Wells conducted by Colin Davis. She also sings the important role of Second Woman in a recording of Dido and Aeneas made shortly before his death by Sir John Barbirolli, with Victoria de los Angeles,  Heather Harper and Peter Glossop.

She taught in London as a Professor at the Royal College of Music.

She also followed a successful career in local government politics in London.  She represented two Putney wards, Parkside then West Hill, as a Councillor in the London Borough of Wandsworth from 1986, standing down in 2014.  She was Mayor of Wandsworth 1998-99.  She represented Merton and Wandsworth for two terms on the London Assembly (May 2000 to May 2008). 

Roles in Scotland

First Boy
Zauberflöte 1962
Phyllis an Arcadian Shepherdess and Ward in Chancery
Iolanthe 1962
Micaëla a peasant girl
Carmen 1963
Yum-Yum Ko-Ko's Ward
Mikado 1963
Zerlina a peasant girl
Don Giovanni 1964
Nannetta daughter of the Fords
Falstaff 1966
Anne Trulove Trulove's daughter
Rake's Progress 1967
Pamina daughter of the Queen of Night
Zauberflöte 1970
Countess Almaviva
Nozze di Figaro 1972
Hanna Glawari a wealthy young widow
Lustige Witwe 1976
Lustige Witwe 1977

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