22 October 1946|
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
|Died||18 February 2012
Elizabeth Connell (22 October 1946 – 18 February 2012) was a South African-born operatic soprano (formerly mezzo-soprano) whose career was conducted mainly in the United Kingdom and Australia. She was acclaimed for her performances of the great Strauss, Verdi and Wagner heroines.
Elizabeth Connell was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 1946. Following her debut at Wexford Festival Opera in 1972, she sang at the opening of the Sydney Opera House in Prokofiev's War and Peace in 1973, and continued to have a special relationship with Opera Australia for the rest of her career. Following a five-year association with English National Opera, she was a freelance artist with the major opera houses.
She appeared at the opera houses of London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, New York (Metropolitan Opera), San Francisco, Milan (La Scala), Naples and Geneva in a wide repertoire and at the Bayreuth, Salzburg, Orange, Verona and Glyndebourne Festivals. Connell had a successful collaboration with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Carlo Maria Giulini, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Edward Downes, Sir Colin Davis, Lorin Maazel, James Levine, Seiji Ozawa and Sir Mark Elder.
In concert, Connell's performances included Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Missa Solemnis and Mahler's Eighth Symphony with conductors such as Abbado, Giulini, Maazel, Sinopoli and Pierre Boulez. In recital, she appeared with Geoffrey Parsons, Graham Johnson, Eugene Asti and Lamar Crowson in Milan, Geneva, Sydney, Johannesburg and at the Wigmore Hall.
Engagements included Kostelnička in Janáček's Jenůfa, Ortrud in Wagner's Lohengrin, Bellini's Norma, Abigaille in Verdi's Nabucco and Ariadne in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos for Opera Australia; Ortrud, Beethoven's Fidelio and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde at the Berlin State Opera, Isolde in Hamburg, Senta in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman in Hamburg and Berlin and Strauss's Elektra in Berlin, Madrid, Bordeaux and Montreal as well as the Färberin in a new production of Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten in Frankfurt and at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
She sang Elektra in Las Palmas, Gertrude (Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel) for the Royal Opera (with worldwide Telecast and DVD release) and concerts of Jenůfa with the London Symphony and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestras under Daniel Harding as well as Fidelio with London Lyric Opera with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
In February 2011, she returned to Prague for Turandot. In April 2011 she was due to sing Lady Macbeth in a new production of Macbeth for Opera Australia, but she had to cancel at short notice because of a medical emergency.
In 2012, she was due to make her debut with the Toulon Opera as Ortrud in a new production of Lohengrin, and to return to Melbourne as Turandot, but her illness prevented her doing so.
Her many recordings include Rossini's William Tell (Decca, Riccardo Chailly), Mahler's Eighth Symphony (EMI, Klaus Tennstedt), Mendelssohn's Second Symphony (DG, Abbado), Franz Schreker's Die Gezeichneten (Decca, Lothar Zagrosek), Donizetti's Poliuto, Verdi's I due Foscari (Philips, Lamberto Gardelli), Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder (Denon, Eliahu Inbal), Wagner's Lohengrin (Philips/Friedrich) and Schubert Lieder with Graham Johnson, as part of Hyperion Records Complete Schubert Edition.
In 2008, two important CD releases were added to her discography: Her first operatic recital, singing great scenes by Wagner and Strauss for ABC Classics, conducted by Muhai Tang, and Benjamin Britten's Owen Wingrave, conducted by Richard Hickox. Elizabeth Connell also recorded portions of Sir Granville Bantock's "The Song of Songs" under the baton of Vernon Handley, for Hyperion.
- Elizabeth Connell at AllMusic
- Literature by and about Elizabeth Connell in the German National Library catalogue
- BBC News: Opera star Elizabeth Connell dies at 65
- Connell profile at Fischer Artists Vienna
- Elizabeth Connell bio
- Elizabeth Connell, Opera Singer, Dies at 65 New York Times 20 February 2012
- Elizabeth Connell The Telegraph 20 February 2012
- Barry Millington. Elizabeth Connell obituary / South African born dramatic soprano hugely popular with audiences worldwide The Guardian 19 February 2012