Marion Studholme sang regularly with the Sadler's Wells company for a period of over twenty-five years, during which time some roles were performed with great regularity - for instance she sang Blonde in 1952 and (in a different production, of course) in 1975, with no noticeable decline in her vocal powers. It was the only role she sang with Scottish Opera, in the company's second season.
Her repertoire was in that light soprano style sometimes described as soubrette, and she did it very well. In addition to Blonde, her Mozart roles included Despina and Susanna. She also sang Rosina in The Barber of Seville. Another classic of the style which she sang throughout her career, right up to 1974, was Adele in Die Fledermaus. One unusual role she played near the start of her career (1952) was Sophie in a rare revival of Massenet's Werther.
When the copyright on Gilbert's lyrics expired, a decade after Sullivan's music had become available, Sadler's Wells put on its first staging of The Mikado, with great success, and Studholme was beautifully cast as Yum-Yum. Earlier that season, she had a West End run (at Her Majesty's in the Haymarket) with Tyrone Guthrie's company from Stratford Ontario, in two other G & S roles - Josephine in HMS Pinafore and Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance.
As a teacher, her students included Sally Burgess.
Her recordings are not numerous, but The Mikado was recorded complete and is beautifully conducted by Alexander Faris. While the excerpts from Die Fledermaus are likely to be less frequently available, the performance is infectious, again beautifully conducted, this time by Vilém Tausky, and with several of the company stars including not just Studholme, but Victoria Elliott, Anna Pollak, John Heddle Nash and Alexander Young. The diction of all is wonderfully clear. Perhaps the disc most likely to survive in the long term is inevitably Britten's 1959 recording of Peter Grimes. It still sounds magnificent, and Studholme makes an excellent impression as one of Auntie's "nieces".
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