Opera Scotland

Klara Barlow Suggest updates

Alma Williams.

Born Brooklyn, 28 July, 1928.

Died New York, 20 January, 2008.

American soprano.

Klara Barlow only appeared in Britain for one series of performances, when she sang Isolde with Scottish Opera in 1973, at the performances in Glasgow, Newcastle and Leeds. She was tall, blonde and handsome, and an excellent actress. She was accustomed to singing major roles in the smaller German houses, and so the theatres on the Scottish circuit suited her well. However she was relatively unknown, and the other performances were being sung by one of the company’s favourite visiting stars, the Viennese soprano Helga Dernesch. Dernesch sang in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and on the company’s visit to London. Barlow did not appear with the company again.

As was expected of young American singers at the time, she began her operatic career in Europe. Her debut in 1962 was as Venus at Berne. She later had contracts with opera houses at Oberhausen and Kiel, then Wiesbaden and Zurich. She also worked occasionally with the major opera companies in Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Hamburg, Dresden and Stuttgart. In Italy she appeared at Bologna as well as at La Scala, where she sang Fidelio and Fata Morgana in The Love for Three Oranges. Her debut at the Met was in 1970 as Fidelio, and she later appeared there as Donna Anna, Amelia, Marina and Elektra. She performed Isolde regularly. She first sang it at Kiel in 1967, repeating it at Spoleto the following year. After her visit to Scottish Opera she sang the role at the Met in 1974, but was employed by that house largely as a cover artist. She was the Brünnhilde of the Seattle centenary Ring cycle in 1976, and she continued to sing dramatic soprano roles in Germany for a decade after that. After her retirement from singing, she taught at the University of Indiana.

Roles in Scotland

Isolde an Irish princess
Tristan und Isolde 1973

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