Opera Scotland

Gillian Knight Suggest updates

Born Redditch, Worcestershire, 1 November 1934.

English mezzo-soprano.

Gillian Knight's career was spent as a principal with three British companies in succession - D'Oyly Carte, Sadler's Wells and the Royal Opera. She also made many guest appearances around the world.

She studied at the Royal Academy of Music, and immediately joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera as principal contralto, singing the repertoire of 'old lady' roles. As a principal mezzo with Sadler's Wells, her extensive repertoire included Carmen  and Isabella (The Italian Girl in Algiers), and she toured to Scotland several times. Carmen was also the role of her Covent Garden debut. She gave dozens of performances in a wide range of roles at the Royal Opera House. These included Puccini (Suzuki Madama Butterfly); Mozart (Third Lady The Magic Flute); Strauss (Page Salome, Annina Der Rosenkavalier); Wagner (Flosshilde Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung, Siegrune Die Walküre); Verdi (Maddalena Rigoletto, Annina La traviata, Emilia Otello, Meg Page Falstaff); Britten (Hippolyta A Midsummer Night's Dream). She created Rose Parrowe in Taverner (Maxwell Davies 1970).

Guest appearances with Scottish Opera included Annina (Der Rosenkavalier), Geneviève (Pelléas et Mélisande) and Maddalena (Rigoletto) as well as the Duchess of Plaza-Toro and Queen of the Fairies.

Carmen is a part she sang for appearances  in France, Poland and Belgium. In Saragossa and Valencia her Don José was Plácido Domingo. Further guest appearances in France include Charlotte in Rouen and La Périchole in Avignon. Paris appearances in Die Zauberflöte were conducted by Karl Böhm. In Frankfurt she appeared as Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera. Work in the USA included Suzuki and Périchole in Dallas and Gertrude (Thomas' Hamlet) in Pittsburg.

She can be heard on many recordings. Between 1959 and 1964 she worked on six D'Oyly Carte recordings of Gilbert and Sullivan - Buttercup (HMS Pinafore), Queen of the Fairies (Iolanthe), Duchess of Plaza-Toro (The Gondoliers), Lady Jane (Patience), Dame Hannah (Ruddigore) and Dame Carruthers (The Yeomen of the Guard). Some thirty years later she added Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance under Sir Charles Mackerras. She can be seen as Katisha (The Mikado) in a more recent DVD of the Carl Rosa staging.

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