Opera Scotland

Joyce Blackham Suggest updates

Joyce Elizabeth Blackham.

Born Rotherham, 1 January 1934.

Died 4 June 2018.

English mezzo-soprano.

Joyce Blackham studied in London, with Joseph Hislop at the Guildhall, immediately attracting favourable attention in a student production as Dorabella.

Joining Sadler's Wells under contract at the age of twenty in 1955, her debut was as Countess Ceprano and she quickly took on larger roles such as Lola, Olga, Cherubino, Flora Bervoix and Maddalena. She spent the 1960s as a principal with Sadler’s Wells, where she was noted for her effervescent interpretations of Offenbach (Hélène, Métella  and Boulotte), as well as Carmen, which she first sang in 1962. It would be her most famous role. Other parts included the Composer, Hanna Glawari and Preziosilla. She created the part of Rosalind in The Mines of Sulphur (Bennett 1965). Her roles with Welsh National Opera included Rosina and Amneris. Covent Garden appearances began with Esmeralda in The Bartered Bride (1958), and she returned as Maddalena and Carmen. She repeated Métella with Phoenix Opera. Her only role for Scottish Opera was on a single tour as Hermia in 1972.

Appearances abroad included Preziosilla in Berlin, and Maddalena, Preziosilla and Federica in Barcelona. Her performances of Carmen took her all over the world - to the USA at Fort Worth (1965) and New York City Opera (1966) - both times with Plácido Domingo as José, and Palm Beach (1970). She also sang the role in Brussels, Cairo, Johannesburg, Auckland and Oslo, as well as Bulgaria and Canada.

Roles in Scotland

Flora Bervoix Violetta's friend
Traviata 1958
Cherubino the Count's page
Nozze di Figaro 1958
Hanna Glawari a wealthy young widow
Lustige Witwe 1959
Carmen a gypsy
Carmen 1963
Carmen 1964
Hélène Queen of Sparta
Belle Hélène 1963
Rosalind Braxton's servant, a gipsy
Mines of Sulphur 1965
Ariadne on Naxos 1969
Hermia in love with Lysander
Midsummer Night's Dream 1972

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