Opera Scotland

Jennifer Vyvyan Suggest updates

Born Broadstairs, 13 March 1925.

Died London, 28 March 1974.

English soprano.

Jennifer Vyvyan had a notable career, equally eminent in both concert and opera. She was an important performer of Handel's oratorios (singing dozens of Messiahs up and down the country) and appeared in a number of early revivals of his operas. Perhaps even more important was her contribution to new music, in that she created several works for Britten, including leading roles in four operas.

She studied at the Royal Academy of Music, then with Roy Henderson (in London) and Fernando Carpi (in Switzerland). After a season in the Glyndebourne chorus she joined the English Opera Group in 1947 for the first production of Britten's realisation of The Beggar's Opera (singing Jenny Diver). Her performances of Mozart roles began at Sadler's Wells in 1952 with Donna Anna and Konstanze. She also returned to Glyndebourne in 1954 as Electra (which she had sung at the previous Edinburgh Festival). Donna Anna was the role of her Scottish Opera debut in 1964.

She created roles in four Britten operas - Penelope Rich in Gloriana (Covent Garden 1953), Governess in The Turn of the Screw (Venice 1954), Tytania in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Aldeburgh 1960) and Mrs Julian in Owen Wingrave (TV 1971). She also collaborated with Malcolm Williamson, creating two roles with Sadler's Wells - Countess Mathilde in The Violins of St Jacques (1966) and Nilla, Spring Bird and two other parts in Lucky Peter's Journey (1969).

Her recordings include Messiah and the title-role in Semele, as well as Turn of the Screw and Owen Wingrave.

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