Opera Scotland

Phyllis Curtin Suggest updates

Born Clarksburg, West Virginia, 3 December 1921.

Died Great Barrington, Massachusetts, 4 June 2016.

American soprano.

Phyllis Curtin had an important career, particularly in giving the first performances of a great deal of American music. She was a leading soprano at New York City Opera over several seasons. In Britain, she worked at Glyndebourne and with Scottish Opera.

She trained at the New England Conservatory, making her debut in Boston as Tatyana (1946). She worked regularly at New York City Opera from 1953. Her debut appearance was in Gottfried von Einem's The Trial, but her versatility ranged from Alice Ford in Nicolai's Merry Wives and Verdi's Falstaff to Walton (Cressida). Roles at the New York Met from 1961 included Fiordiligi, Eva, Rosalinde and Tosca.

She worked extensively in continental Europe, with appearances in Vienna, Paris, Geneva,  Brussels, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Stuttgart. Her British debut, in 1959, was as Donna Anna at Glyndebourne. She joined Scottish Opera in 1966 for Faust, returning two years later for Peter Grimes and a concert performance of Schubert's Alfonso und Estrella, both at the Edinburgh Festival.

She created the title role of Countess Almaviva in Milhaud's La mère coupable (Geneva 1966). She also worked extensively with the composer Carlisle Floyd, creating four major parts. These included the title role in Susannah (Tallahassee 1955), Catherine Wuthering Heights (NYCO 1959), Celia The Passion of Jonathan Wade (NYCO 1962) and Eleanor of Aquitaine Flower and Hawk (Jacksonville 1972).

Main Source: Obituary in Opera August 2016.

Roles in Scotland

Marguerite
Faust 1966
Estrella Mauregato's daughter
Alfonso and Estrella 1968
Ellen Orford widow and schoolmistress
Peter Grimes 1968

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