Opera Scotland

Beatrice Miranda Suggest updates

Born Melbourne, 1884.

Died Buffalo, NY, 1964.

Australian soprano.

Beatrice Miranda had a notable career as a versatile operatic soprano. Both her parents, David Miranda (Spanish) and Annette Hirst (from Yorkshire) were singers. Her elder sister Lalla Miranda (1876-1948) enjoyed a very successful career, particularly on the continent and in the USA (where she sang in Rigoletto with Caruso). Early Scottish interest arises from the sisters' uncle, Samuel Hirst, an organist and conductor who moved from Huddersfield to Dundee and spent over five decades as an influential figure in the musical life of North-East Scotland.

Beatrice Miranda started, like her sister, as a coloratura soprano, and sang Gilda at Covent Garden in 1909. Her Carl Rosa repertoire initially included Philine and Queen of Night, though she was quickly able to take on Leonora and heavier lyric roles, eventually singing Elsa and Elisabeth. In Bradford on 6 Feb 1922 she sang in the opening performance of BNOC, as Aïda. She also appeared at Covent Garden as Tosca (with Joseph Hislop and Dinh Gilly), and as Sieglinde. Her repertoire eventually included Brünnhilde and Isolde, and she recorded brief extracts from both roles.

She married baritone Hebden Foster, also a leading Carl Rosa artist. From 1924 on, they lived in Edinburgh, taught singing, and continued with concert and recital work, rather than opera. They were leading enthusiasts in the encouragement of amateur performing groups in the city. It may have been their influence that brought Joseph Hislop back to Edinburgh for some performances in 1929.

In Opera, January 1970, reviewing a book Singers of Australia, Lord Harewood quotes an anecdote from Joan Cross about Beatrice Miranda. It seems that at very short notice during a Sadler’s Wells tour of Scotland during the second world war (actually in 1941), Miranda came out of retirement to save a performance of Butterfly. Cross, whose indisposition had caused the crisis, was thrilled by the brilliance and power of the elderly soprano's top notes.

Beatrice Miranda died in the USA while on a visit to stay with her daughter.

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