Opera Scotland

Elizabeth Fretwell Suggest updates

Born Melbourne, 13 August 1920.
Died Sydney, 5 June 2006.

Australian soprano.

Elizabeth Fretwell reached the final of the Sun Aria competition in 1947 and studied opera at the Melbourne National Theatre Movement. She then joined the Australian National Opera. After coming to Britain in 1954 she studied with Joseph Hislop.

After singing Aïda and Musetta with the Dublin Grand Opera, she was engaged as leading soprano at Sadler’s Wells from 1955, one of her first roles being First Lady in a Magic Flute conducted by Alexander Gibson. She remained with SWO for over ten years, singing most of the lyric repertoire including Beethoven (Leonore); Wagner (Senta); Strauss (Ariadne); Verdi (Violetta, Leonora, Amelia); Puccini (Musetta, Tosca, Minnie) and Britten ( Ellen Orford, Gloriana). Her interpretation of Violetta seems to have been especially impressive. She was a leading member of Sadler’s Wells when they toured to Munich in 1963 – singing Ellen in the first local performance of Peter Grimes. She created the part of Blanche in The Moon and Sixpence (Gardner 1957).

At Covent Garden her only major roles were Aïda and Giorgetta, though she also sang Third Norn in the 1967 Ring. With Scottish Opera she sang Donna Anna (1964), Sieglinde (1966) and Freia (1967). She returned to finish her career in Australia from 1970 with roles such as Leonora di Vargas, Aïda, Leonore, Giorgetta and Tosca, and sang in the opening season of the Sydney Opera House in 1973.

Roles in Scotland

Sister Angelica
Suor Angelica 1957
Musetta a grisette
Bohème 1957
Bohème 1958
Violetta Valéry a courtesan
Traviata 1957
Traviata 1958
Traviata 1961
Leonore Florestan's wife, disguised as Fidelio
Fidelio 1959
Miss Jessel a former governess
Turn of the Screw 1962
Minnie Innkeeper
Fanciulla del West 1963
Fanciulla del West 1964
Ellen Orford widow and schoolmistress
Peter Grimes 1964
Donna Anna the Commendatore's daughter
Don Giovanni 1964
Senta Daland's daughter
Fliegende Holländer 1965
Fliegende Holländer 1966
Amelia wife of Anckarström
Masked Ball 1965
Sieglinde a Volsung, sister of Siegmund
Valkyrie 1966
Freia sister of Fricka and goddess of love and spring
Rheingold 1967

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