Gail Varina Gilmore
Gail Varina Gilmore (born September 21, 1950 in Washington, D.C.) is an African-American Gospel, jazz and (mezzo-soprano) opera singer. She is particularly known for her interpretation of Kundry in Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal.
Gail Gilmore, born in Washington, D.C., grew up in New Orleans. She completed her undergraduate degree at the Xavier University of New Orleans with a Bachelor of Music in 1972. Two years later, at the renowned music department of the Indiana University at Bloomington, she received a Masters in Music. The same year, the then-24-year-old singer launched her stage career in Europe, specifically in Germany, where her focus remains.
Gail Gilmore became immediately noticeable because of her exceptional musical talent, acting ability, and her unmistakable, dark, vocal timber of her voice. She debuted at the Stadttheater, Gießen, as Eboli in the Verdi opera Don Carlos. Engagements followed at the Stadttheater Krefeld where she performed mainly the roles of the cavallier such as Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier. In Krefeld she sang also the role of Brangaene in Tristan und Isolde. From 1979 to 1982 Gilmore was a member of the ensemble of the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden. There under the guidance of the general music director Siegfried Köhler, she celebrated successes as Adriano in Wagner's Rienzi,, Venus in Tannhaüser and Eboli in Don Carlos
In 1982 Gilmore responded to a call from the opera in Nürnberg and was engaged as a regular guest by Michael Gielen at the Opera Frankfort, whose cast she joined in 1985 and of which she became a leading member. It was in Nürnberg where she first performed the role of Kundry in Wagner's Parsifal but Gilmore's major breakthrough came through in her performance in the 1982 premiere production of Parsifal in Frankfurt, in a Ruth Berghaus production with Michael Gielen as musical director. She then sang Kundry alongside Peter Hofmann in the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Critics praised her for her articulation and text expression, combined with her intelligent character conception, especially in her Kundry role. In the 1980s Gilmore continued her guest performances at the Metropolitan Opera and at other famous opera houses. At the Met, under the musical direction of James Levine, she sang the Venus in Tannhäuser, Fricka in Walküre, and Komponisten in Ariadne auf Naxos. In the Arena di Verona she sang Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera, Amneris in Aida and the title role in Carmen opposite José Carreras.
Gail Gilmore haa a repertoire of over 40 opera roles, among which are Ortrud in Lohengrin Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Penthesilea in Schoeck's Penthesilea and the Antigone in the Carl Orff opera of the same name. Gail Gilmore's voice teacher, Rudolf Bautz, encouraged her to trust her voice range, which exceeds three-and-a-half octaves, and take roles in a higher dramatic range, such as Leonore in Fidelio, and the title roles in Elektra, Salome, Tosca and Turandot. Gail Gilmore has also sung rarely performed operas such as Fosca, from the Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Gomes, which first premiered at La Scala, Milan in 1873. Gilmore is also a concert artist with a repertoire that includes works such as the Vier letzte Lieder from Richard Strauss, the third symphony from Gustav Mahler, Johannes Brahms's Alto Rhapsody and Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder.
From the beginning of her career Gilmore gave concerts with piano accompaniment, in which she sang songs by American composers and some arrangements of Gospels and spirituals. In 2002 Gilmore founded the Oldambster Musikfestival in Bellingwolde, the Netherlands and for six years she invited artists from all over the world to participate. The music from this festival extended from opera and musicals to jazz, Gospel and blues.
Starting in 2007 until 2012, Gail Gilmore was teaching at the private music school, SMU in Munich, where she taught voice in the fields of opera, musicals, jazz, pop and Gospel. Since the summer semester of 2010, she has also taught as a guest professor at the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt, in the Department of Social Psychology. She lectured on children and youth behavior programs as part of the academic projects on "Musical Therapy for Youths with Behavioral Disturbances, together with Professor Gunter Adams, Head of the Children and Youth Behavior Support Program of Wuerzburg. In addition to that, she has worked closely together with the Dean, Professor Rainer Wiestner, on projects covering the theme of "Re-socialization and Threataening Behavior", combined directly to programs on "Music in Prison" with on-site prison lectures and music demonstrations. There was also the subject of "Freedom and Chains", with the theme of "The History of Slavery", accompanied by examples of subject relevant music.
- Gail Gilmore Sings Famous Opera Arias 1992 (Verdi Records)
- Gail Gilmore sings Gershwin 1993 (Sony)
- Gail Gilmore sings Verdi: Composizioni da camera per canto e pianoforte
- Strauss: Lieder 1996 (Carey)
- Fosca by Antonio Carlos Gomes (Gesamtaufnahme) 1997 (Sudameris)
- Gail Gilmore sings Gospels and Spirituals 1997 (Carey)
- Gail Gilmore: Aria 1999 (Signum)
- Baltimore Afro-American, "Gilmore to sing in televised holiday concert", 26 December 1981, p. 12
- Cummings, David (ed.), "Gilmore, Gail", International Who's Who in Classical Music, Routledge, 2003, p. 279. ISBN 1-85743-174-X
- Hall, Charles, J., Chronology of Western Classical Music, Taylor & Francis, 2002, pp. 914 and 1100. ISBN 0-415-94216-0
- Jones, Andrew, Plunderphonics, 'pataphysics & pop mechanics: an introduction to musique actuelle, SAF Publishing Ltd, 1995, p. 58. ISBN 0-946719-15-2,
- Metropolitan Opera, Gilmore, Gail (Mezzo Soprano), performance record on the MetOpera Database
- Page, Tim, "'Parsifal' Act II", New York Times, 3 February 1986
- Rockwell, John, "Wagner's 'Ring des Nibelungen in Nigeria", New York Times, 28 April 1987