Monday 11 September 2006

Sorry I missed you

I caught a brief article in the Gramophone about the soprano Linda Esther Gray. She was one of those singers who, for a period, seemed to be woven into the fabric of my opera going life. I saw her as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro performed in Manchester by Glyndebourne Touring Opera whilst I was a student; the first professional opera production that I had seen. She then cropped up in various guises, notably as Eva in the Scottish Opera production of Die Meistersinger. I was due to see her in the Goodall Tristan with WNO at the Astra Theatre, Coventry (whilst their usual theatre in Birmingham was being re-built), but she was ill that night. The performance was stunning, despite this and certainly made you forget the glittery purple walls of the theatre foyer (it spent most of its life as a cinema). I also have vivid memories of a later Tosca with ENO (How much delivered in a devastating Scots accent). But there was also the Turandot with Scottish Opera which never happened (well the production did, but with Milla Andrew) and then the ENO Valyrie in the Pountney production with the Busby Berkeley spectacular for the opening scene of Act 3. I saw it with Gray's cover in the role of Brunnhilde, but I understand she did some performances.

It comes as some sort of relief to discover that these problems were not caused by stage fright or some such thing (as was rumoured), but physical illness; severe enough for her to have to stop talking at one point. Though she rebuilt her voice, things were never the same again but she has put her knowledge to good use and is a teacher.

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