Opera Scotland

Rita Gorr Suggest updates

Marguerite Geirnaert

Born Ghent, 18 February 1926.

Died 22 January 2012.

Belgian mezzo-soprano.

Rita Gorr was a powerfully dramatic singer of the leading mezzo roles of Verdi and Wagner. She was also a noted performer of certain French roles, particularly in Gluck's operas, and she was a memorable interpreter of Dalila.

Early career

Gorr studied in Ghent, and in 1952, after launching a successful career, won the international singing competition in Lausanne. She had already spent three seasons at Strasbourg following her 1949 debut at Antwerp, in which, at a very early age, she had sung Fricka in both Das Rheingold and Die Walküre.

Roles in Strasbourg included Carmen, Amneris and Charlotte. Her competition win allowed her to move to Paris, but the years that followed seem to have been slightly frustrating, with few opportunities being allowed her. However she sang Charlotte and then added Magdalene to her Wagner repertoire. She also sang Mère Marie in the Paris premiere of Carmélites.

International years

In 1958 she appeared at Bayreuth fot the first time, as Fricka then Kundry, and her international career got under way, with her debuts at Rome in 1958 (Brangäne),  Covent Garden in 1959 (Amneris),  La Scala 1960 (Kundry) and the New York Met in 1962 (Amneris, followed by Eboli,  Azucena,  Santuzza and  Dalila).  She also appeared in Naples, Lisbon and other major centres.

Her notable French repertoire included Dalila, Charlotte and Hérodiade as well as Gluck's Orphée and Iphigénie (en Tauride). Her Carmen was not a particular success, since her stage presence lacked the necessary magnetism. Two of her most notable roles were always Ortrud and Kundry.


In 1969 she sang the title role in a concert performance in London of Roussel's Padmâvati. She made her last appearance at Covent Garden in 1971. Her final performances in Britain came in 1982 with Welsh National Opera, when she played Kabanicha in David Pountney's staging of Kátya Kabanová after it moved from Glasgow to Cardiff.

She continued to sing roles such as the Countess in The Queen of Spades and Filippyevna, as well as Kabanicha.

Gorr retired from the stage in 2007 at the age of 81.


Several of her most notable roles are preserved on record. These include Dalila, Amneris, Fricka, Iphigénie and Mère Marie.

Roles in Scotland

Iphigénie Priestess of Diana
Iphigenia in Tauris 1961

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