Opera Scotland

Joan Carlyle Suggest updates

Joan Hildred Carlyle.

Born Upton, Wirral, Cheshire, 6 April 1931.

Died Wrexham, 31 October 2021.

Welsh soprano.

Joan Carlyle spent much of her career as a principal soprano at the Royal Opera House, at her peak throughout the 1960s.  She was particularly noted for her interpretations of Puccini and Strauss.

She grew up near Ruthin, North Wales, where her parents ran a hotel.  She trained in London with Bertha Nicklass-Kempner, driving once a week from North Wales for her lessons.  She gained a contract with Covent Garden at the age of 23, making her debut in 1955 as Frasquita.  Early roles included Chloe The Queen of Spades and Glauce Medea (with Callas).  She sang Sophie Der Rosenkavalier under Rudolf Kempe.

Puccini roles included Mimì from 1960. She partnered Pavarotti on his house debut as Rodolfo in 1963.  She later sang Suor Angelica.  Strauss parts, in addition to Sophie, included Zdenka in the first British staging of Arabella, with Lisa della Casa and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in 1965.  On revival she sang the title role.  Other parts at Covent Garden included Mozart (Donna Anna), Wagner (Eva), Verdi (Desdemona) and Leoncavallo (Nedda).  She sang Jenifer in an important revival of The Midsummer Marriage in 1970 with Colin Davis and Alberto Remedios.  She returned after a gap, making her final appearances in 1976 as Freia Das Rheingold.

She sang Tytania in Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream when the work had its London premiere at Covent Garden under Georg Solti, repeating the part when the company visited the 1961 Edinburgh Festival. Appearances with Scottish Opera included Mimì and Desdemona in 1967.

She appeared at Glyndebourne in 1965 as Countess Almaviva.

She did not work much abroad, but sang Sieglinde at La Scala in 1968, under Karajan.

Her recordings include Nedda Pagliacci, made at La Scala in 1965 under Karajan with Bergonzi.  The Midsummer Marriage was also recorded.  When Solti conducted a recording of Don Carlos at Covent Garden in 1965, with a stellar cast including Tebaldi, Bumbry, Bergonzi, Fischer-Dieskau, Ghiaurov and Talvela, she can be heard in a very brief role as the Voice from Heaven.

Roles in Scotland

Tytania Queen of the Fairies
Midsummer Night's Dream 1961
Desdemona Otello's wife
Otello 1967
Mimì a seamstress
Bohème 1967

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