Opera Scotland

Josephine Veasey Suggest updates

Born London, 10 July 1930.

English mezzo-soprano.

Josephine Veasey had a fine international career as a leading dramatic mezzo-soprano, while basing herself almost continuously at Covent Garden. She was especially noted for her interpretations of Berlioz and Wagner.

She trained with Audrey Langford in London, and sang in the chorus at Covent Garden for two seasons 1948 to 1950. There followed a season touring Britain with Opera for All. Her debut in a solo role at Covent Garden came in 1954, as the Shepherd Boy in Tannhäuser.

She was soon taking on a range of more important parts. at the Royal Opera House. During her career she sang a wide repertoire of roles there, including Bizet (Mercédès, Carmen); Verdi (Emilia, Maddalena, Meg Page, Preziosilla, Eboli, Amneris); Puccini (Suzuki); Wagner (Venus, Brangäne, Fricka, Waltraute); Strauss (Octavian, Herodias, Adelaide in Arabella); Mozart (Cherubino, Dorabella); Mascagni [Santuzza); Musorgsky (Marina); Massenet (Charlotte) and Rossini (Rosina). In 1976 she created the role of Emperor in We Come to the River (Henze). Perhaps most notable was her interpretation of Dido in Les Troyens.

She appeared rarely with other British companies, but did sing Charlotte at Glyndebourne (1969). She also gave a gloriously dramatic performance at the 1980 Buxton Festival, singing Gertrude to the Hamlet of Thomas Allen, bringing the Ambroise Thomas opera to life. A rare visit to Scotland came when she sang in the Opening Concert of the 1963  Edinburgh Festival, as Marguerite in La Damnation de Faust, conducted by Solti. One appearance at the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall was as both Cassandra and Dido in a concert presentation of Les Troyens.

Her international career included visits to the Paris Opéra (Dido, Kundry). She worked frequently with Karajan, singing Fricka in his staging of the Ring, which was seen at Salzburg, La Scala and the New York Met.

She can be heard on a number of recordings in addition to the Karajan Ring. Most notable are her performances of Berlioz under Colin Davis - Dido, Marguerite and Béatrice. She recorded the Purcell Dido with Davis and the Verdi Requiem with Bernstein. She can also be heard as the Page in the Nilsson/Solti recording of Salome (1962) and as Rossweisse in a 1961 recording of Die Walküre made with the LSO under Leinsdorf.

Roles in Scotland

Berta Bartolo's housekeeper
Barbiere di Siviglia 1961
Marguerite
Damnation de Faust 1963

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