Opera Scotland

Ann Howard Suggest updates

Ann Pauline Giles (née Swadling).

Born Norwood, London, 22 July 1936.

Died 26 March 2014.

English mezzo-soprano.

Ann Howard had a long career as a versatile mezzo-soprano with a repertoire ranging from Wagner to West End musicals. She enjoyed particular success as Carmen with ENO and abroad, giving 259 performances of the role between 1970 and 1984.

After several years of retail work, she studied privately in London with Topliss Green (1956-62) and Rodolpha Lhombino (1962-3). She worked in touring theatre and pantomime before a period of study in Paris with Dominique Modesti on a grant from Covent Garden. On her return, she joined the Covent Garden chorus, before joining Sadler's Wells as a principal. She was based there throughout her career, from her 1964 debut as Czipra (The Gipsy Baron), singing a wide range of music from Wagner (Fricks, Ortrud) to musicals (Lilli Vanessi in Kiss Me Kate) and new works. She performed with most of the major British companies. Her international career took her to France, Belgium, Italy, Canada, Mexico and Chile, as well as frequent visits to the United States.

Perhaps her most highly regarded role was Carmen, which she sang opposite Domingo in New Orleans and New York. Her French repertoire also included Delilah and Cassandra. At Sadler's Wells she sang operetta roles such as Czipra The Gipsy Baron, Boulotte Bluebeard and the title-role in La belle Hélène in addition to Queen of the Fairies Iolanthe and Katisha The Mikado. She sang several Wagner rules including appearances in the famous Reginald Goodall Ring cycle as Fricka. She also appeared as the Witch Hansel and Gretel, Ježibaba Rusalka, The Secretary The Consul, Azucena, the Grandmother in The Gambler, and Mescalina Le Grand Macabre. At Covent Garden she sang Amneris.

She appeared in the premières of The Mines of Sulphur (Bennett 1965) at Sadler's Wells and The Plumber's Gift (Blake 1989) at the Coliseum, as well as creating Mrs Danvers in Rebecca (Josephs 1983) for Opera North. At Santa Fe she created Caliban in The Tempest (John Eaton 1989).

She toured to Scotland frequently with the Sadler's Wells company and first appeared with Scottish Opera doubling as Fricka and Waltraute in the 1966 staging of Die Walküre. She continued to appear regularly with the company in a range of roles from Cavalli to Bernstein, appearing as the Old Lady in Candide in 1988.

Roles in Scotland

Witch
Hansel and Gretel 1964
Leda an actress (Mrs Traxel in the play)
Mines of Sulphur 1965
Dalila a Philistine priestess
Samson and Delilah 1966
Samson and Delilah 1967
Fricka Wotan's estranged wife
Valkyrie 1966
Waltraute a Valkyrie
Valkyrie 1966
Ghost of Cassandra
Trojans 1969
Boulotte a swineherd
Bluebeard 1969
Baba the Turk a bearded lady and circus attraction
Rake's Progress 1969
Cassandra a prophetess (Cassandre)
Trojans 1969
First Norn
Götterdämmerung 1972
Carmen a gypsy
Carmen 1972
Brangäne Isolde's attendant
Tristan und Isolde 1973
Venere Venus, goddess of love
Orion 1984
Old Lady
Candide 1988

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