Opera Scotland

Miriam Licette Suggest updates

Born Chester, 9 Sep 1892.

Died Twyford, 11 Aug 1969.

English soprano.

Miriam Licette was one of the most successful British lyric sopranos between the wars. She studied in Milan and Paris with Marchesi, Jean de Reszke, and Sabbatini.

Her official debut occurred in Rome in 1911, as Cio-Cio-San, though clearly she had already performed major roles before travelling to Italy.  Her 1910 UK tour with the Castellano company, was no doubt to gain stage experience, but also to perfect her Italian before the journey to Milan.  On her return, when she joined the Carl Rosa, the Aberdeen press described her as ''from the Adriano Theatre, Rome.''

Licette was a leading soprano with Beecham's Company from 1916 to 1920, and she worked with BNOC 1922-8. Important roles during the Covent Garden international seasons from 1919 to 1929 included Marguerite, Mimì, Euridice, Desdemona, Donna Elvira, and Gutrune.

Her Mozart singing was highly regarded as well as her Louise and Juliet.

James Buchan, critic of the Dundee Courier over a forty year period, claimed some credit for discovering her as a young singer.  As reported in Buchan's Courier & Advertiser obituary in 1931, he wrote in a complimentary fashion of her performance as Micaëla with the Castellano company -

'One of his notable discoveries was Miss Miriam Licette, now the Covent Garden star.   Some twenty years ago she appeared in Her Majesty’s Theatre, Dundee, in a small part in Carmen.  Her performance caught the appreciative eye of Mr Buchan, and as a result of what he wrote Miss Licette was given the part of Marguerite in Faust, which was staged on the Saturday night.  This was the beginning of her great success.'

In 1927 two early complete opera recordings, Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, were made by the Columbia company using BNOC forces.  Miriam Licette features as Nedda in Pagliacci.  She can also be heard as Marguerite in Beecham's 1928 English-language recording of Faust.

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