Opera Scotland

Constance Willis Suggest updates

Born 1894.

Died 1940.

English contralto.

Constance Willis was one of the leading British mezzos of the inter-war period, singing with  Carl Rosa,  BNOC,  Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden, as well as the first Glyndebourne Festivals.

In opera, she was particularly noted for her interpretations of parts by Wagner (Ortrud, Brangäne, Magdalene, Erda,  Fricka, First Norn,  Waltraute),   Verdi (Maddalena,  Azucena,  Amneris,  Emilia,  Meg Page,  Quickly),  Saint-Saëns (Dalila) and perhaps most highly regarded of all -  Bizet (Carmen).  Her repertoire included several ''trouser'' roles - Mozart (Cherubino),  Wallace (Lazarillo), Thomas (Frederic),  Offenbach (Nicklausse).

She kept up a repertoire of character roles. including Gay (Mrs Peachum),  Mozart (Marcellina),  Gounod (Marthe), Humperdinck (Witch), Puccini (Suzuki,  Zita).

She also worked as a straight actress, including several performances of Shakespeare.

She created Aunt Jane in Hugh the Drover (Vaughan Williams 1924) and Doll Tearsheet At the Boar's Head (Holst 1925).

At the opening season of the Glyndebourne Festival in 1934 she sang Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro.  This was repeated (and recorded) the following year.

Roles in Scotland

Lazarillo a poor apprentice
Maritana 1918
Antonia's mother a spirit voice
Tales of Hoffmann 1918
Marcellina Bartolo's housekeeper
Nozze di Figaro 1918
Nozze di Figaro 1926
Nozze di Figaro 1927
Suzuki Cio-Cio-San's servant
Madam Butterfly 1920
Madam Butterfly 1921
Madam Butterfly 1923
Madam Butterfly 1924
Madam Butterfly 1925
Madam Butterfly 1926
Madam Butterfly 1928
Madam Butterfly 1938
Cherubino the Count's page
Nozze di Figaro 1920
Nicklausse Hoffmann's friend
Tales of Hoffmann 1920
Tales of Hoffmann 1921
Carmen a gypsy
Carmen 1920
Carmen 1924
Carmen 1925
Carmen 1926
Carmen 1927
Carmen 1928
Carmen 1936
Frédéric a young nobleman
Mignon 1920
Angel of Death
Angelus 1921
Azucena a Biscayan gypsy woman
Trovatore 1921
Marthe a neighbour
Faust 1923
Faust 1924
Faust 1926
Faust 1928
Fricka Wotan's estranged wife
Valkyrie 1923
Valkyrie 1927
Queen
Fête Galante 1923
Mercury
Phoebus and Pan 1923
Lola Alfio’s wife
Cavalleria Rusticana 1923
Aunt Jane the Constable's sister
Hugh the Drover 1924
Hugh the Drover 1926
Magdalene Eva's nurse
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1924
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1925
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1926
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1927
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1928
Doll Tearsheet
At the Boar's Head 1925
Zita a cousin of Buoso, aged sixty
Gianni Schicchi 1925
Gianni Schicchi 1926
Gianni Schicchi 1927
Emilia Iago's wife and Desdemona's companion
Otello 1925
Otello 1926
Brangäne Isolde's attendant
Tristan und Isolde 1926
Maddalena sister of Sparafucile
Rigoletto 1926
Witch
Hansel and Gretel 1926
Amneris daughter of the King of Egypt
Aïda 1926
Aïda 1927
First Norn
Götterdämmerung 1927
Waltraute a Valkyrie, Brünnhilde's sister
Götterdämmerung 1927
Dalila a Philistine priestess
Samson and Delilah 1927
Quickly Mistress Quickly, a confidante of Alice and Meg
Falstaff 1928
Ortrud Friedrich's wife
Lohengrin 1928
Lohengrin 1929
Meg Mistress Page
Falstaff 1929
Erda mother of the Norns and Valkyries
Siegfried 1936
Mrs Peachum
Beggar's Opera 1940

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