Opera Scotland

Elizabeth Harwood Suggest updates

Born Kettering, Northants, 27 May 1938.

Died Fryerning, Essex, 21 June 1990.

English soprano.

Elizabeth Harwood was an important singer of beautifully elegant appearance and style, who worked with most of the British opera companies. She was one of the first British singers to be invited regularly to the Salzburg Festival, as well as appearing at La Scala and the Met.

She trained in Manchester at the RNCM, and won the Kathleen Ferrier Competition, which led to a period of study in Milan under the coloratura soprano Lina Pagliughi.  She was also joint winner of the Verdi competition at Busseto.

She made her debut at Glyndebourne in 1960 (Second Boy Zauberflöte). She was then contracted to Sadler's Wells Opera 1961-5, singing a repertoire including Mozart (Konstanze, Countess, Pamina); Rossini (Adèle Count Ory);  Verdi (Gilda); Sullivan (Phyllis Iolanthe) and  Strauss (Zerbinetta). Many years later she returned for Donna Elvira and Manon.

She spent a brief period with the English Opera Group in Acis and Galatea, before touring Australia with Joan Sutherland's company, when she sang in Lucia di Lammermoor and La sonnambula.

Her debut with the Royal Opera Covent Garden was in 1967 (Fiakermilli Arabella) and she returned several times as Gilda, Oscar, Donna Elvira and Norina.  She sang Bella in a major revival of Tippett's Midsummer Marriage.  The revival of Benvenuto Cellini, in which she sang Teresa, was taken on the exchange visit to La Scala in 1976.

She made her first appearance with Scottish Opera in 1967 as Fiordiligi in a famous production of Così fan tutte which also included Janet Baker and Ryland Davies.  She and Baker returned for revivals in 1969 and 1975, and she also stepped in at short notice for a performance in 1972.  In 1971 she sang Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier (with Janet Baker and Helga Dernesch).  Her later appearances were in 1974 (Lucia di Lammermoor); 1976 (Eva Die Meistersinger) and 1979 (Rosalinde Die Fledermaus).  Her only Wagner role was found to be too exhausting and she withdrew after two performances.  The Johann Strauss showed her returned to form in a superb revival that featured Billy Connolly doing a memorable guest turn as Frosch.

Appearances abroad included Aix-en-Provence (Donna Elvira 1967, Galatea 1969);  Salzburg (Konstanze & Fiordiligi 1970; Countess 1972); New York Met (Fiordiligi 1975); Vienna (Rosalinde).

Her recordings include Handel Messiah (with Baker & Mackerras); Elsie Maynard Yeomen of the Guard (with Sargent); Ida Princess Ida (with Sargent); Musetta (La Bohème with Freni, Pavarotti & Karajan); Hanna Glawari Die lustige Witwe (with Karajan); Bella The Midsummer Marriage (with Carlyle, Remedios, Burrows & C Davis).

Roles in Scotland

Gilda Rigoletto's daughter
Rigoletto 1962
Pamina daughter of the Queen of Night
Zauberflöte 1962
Konstanze a Spanish lady
Entführung aus dem Serail 1964
Fiordiligi a young lady from Ferrara, engaged to Guglielmo
Così fan tutte 1967
Così fan tutte 1969
Così fan tutte 1972
Così fan tutte 1975
Sophie Sophie von Faninal, his daughter
Rosenkavalier 1971
Lucia Lucy Ashton, Henry's Sister
Lucia di Lammermoor 1974
Eva daughter of Pogner
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1976
Rosalinde wife of Eisenstein
Fledermaus 1979

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