Opera Scotland

Doris Woodall Suggest updates

Born c1880.

Died Iver, Bucks., February 1954.

English contralto.

Doris Woodall had a long and successful career as a dramatic contralto, singing both in concert and opera. She trained in Germany, and one of her first professional engagements was in Russia, where she gave her first performance as Carmen, a role she would sing more than a thousand times during her career.

She joined the Carl Rosa company in 1905, and worked regularly with them for the next quarter-century. She also appeared with other companies, including Denhof and O'Mara. Her repertoire included Mozart (Cherubino);  Balfe (Gipsy Queen);  Wagner (Ortrud,  Fricka);  Verdi (Maddalena,  Azucena,  Amneris);  Nicolai (Mrs Page); Thomas (Mignon);  Goldmark (Queen of Sheba); Saint-Saëns (Dalila);  Bizet (Carmen);  Strauss (Klytemnestra). With Carl Rosa in 1910 she sang the title role in the British premiere of The Queen of Sheba by Goldmark.

Perhaps the highlight of her concert career came in 1914, when she took part in the first performance in Britain of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, conducted by Sir Henry Wood. In 1922, while continuing to sing leading roles, she became artistic supervisor of the Carl Rosa company, with overall responsibility for the dramatic presentation of all the works in the programme. Perhaps she was the first woman to hold such an influential position in a major company, at least in Britain.

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