Opera Scotland

Anne Sharp Suggest updates

Born Motherwell, 24 October 1916.

Died West Linton, Peebles-shire, 25 August 2011.

Scottish soprano.

Anne Sharp created roles in two of Britten's early stage works, Albert Herring and Let's Make an Opera! She had been a founder member of the post-war chorus at Covent Garden, and worked with the English Opera Group during its early years.

She grew up in a family of keen amateur musicians. Her father worked as an engineer in Colville's steelworks, but was also a choirmaster and church precentor. After school she did secretarial work while studying music privately. In 1941 she started to train at the Scottish National Academy of Music (now the Royal Conservatoire) in Glasgow, and continued to sing in the choir at Glasgow Cathedral. In 1943 she won the Jean Highgate Memorial Scholarship.

After the war a full-time professional chorus was formed at Covent Garden for the first time. Auditions were held throughout the UK, and Anne Sharp was one of seven Scots who joined the 71-strong band. Early repertoire after her move to London included The Fairy Queen, Carmen and The Magic Flute.

The following year she was recruited by Benjamin Britten to join the newly-established English Opera Group, and she created the role of the schoolgirl Cis Woodger when Albert Herring was premiered at Glyndebourne in 1947. In June the following year the opera was revived for the first Aldeburgh Festival, at which time she switched to the other girl, Emmie Spatchett. She sang this role on a tour which included a visit to Copenhagen, and a recording of that performance has been made available on CD. She repeated the part of Emmie when Albert Herring was televised in February 1950. During the period with the English Opera Group, she also created the role of Juliet Brook when Let's Make An Opera! received its premiere at Aldeburgh in 1949.

Operatic roles with other groups included Queen of Night and Micaëla. She created a third part, the title role in The Death of Tintagiles, composed by the conductor Lawrance Collingwood (1950).

After her marriage in 1950 to a church minister, Rev Hamish Kerr, she continued to do some operatic work but concentrated more on the field of concert and oratorio performances in Scotland. Her concert repertoire included the B Minor Mass, Messiah, Elijah, Creation and Brahms' Requiem. After the birth of her daughter in 1953 she retired from opera altogether.

(Source: The Wishaw Press, 14 December 2011)

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