Marie Collier

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Marie Collier (16 April 1927 – 8 December 1971) was an Australian operatic soprano.

Marie Collier was born in Ballarat, Victoria. She attended Camberwell High School from 1941 to 1943.[1] She first came to prominence in 1952 singing the role of Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana for the National Theatre Opera company in Melbourne. However she became a household name in Australia in 1953-54 performing Magda Sorel in Gian Carlo Menotti's The Consul, for a total of seventy-five performances in Melbourne, Sydney and regional areas.

Collier studied in Milan in 1955, where she was auditioned by Lord Harewood. Subsequently she was offered a contract as a regular member of the Covent Garden Opera Company. She made her Royal Opera House, Covent Garden debut as the First Lady in The Magic Flute in 1956. She created the role of Hecuba in Michael Tippett's King Priam which premiered in Coventry in May 1962; and sang the leading roles in the Western premieres of Katerina Ismailova (2 December 1963)[2] at the Royal Opera House, and The Makropulos Case at Sadler's Wells (12 February 1964).[3]

Other roles at Covent Garden in subsequent seasons included Musetta in La bohème; Giulietta in The Tales of Hoffmann; Liu in Turandot; Flora in La traviata; Butterfly in Madama Butterfly; and the title role in the 1963 production of Tosca.

She is probably best known as being the substitute Tosca in Covent Garden's famous 1965 revival of the 1964 Franco Zeffirelli production of the opera. When Maria Callas cancelled her appearances in three out of the four scheduled performances, Collier stepped in, to great acclaim.

In 1967, she created the role of Christine Mannon in the world premiere of Marvin David Levy's Mourning Becomes Electra at the Metropolitan Opera, in which Evelyn Lear and Sherrill Milnes also sang.[4] Her other roles with the Met included Musetta, Tosca (on tour), and Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana.[5]

In 1968, she participated in the first opera telecast in Australia (Tosca, with Donald Smith as Cavaradossi and Tito Gobbi as Scarpia).[6]

She was also noted as Chrysothemis in Sir Georg Solti's acclaimed recording of Richard Strauss's Elektra, with Birgit Nilsson in the title role.[7]

She died in London at the age of 44, in an accident in which she fell to her death from an open window. This occurred shortly after she had been chosen to sing the part of Cassandra in Berlioz's opera Les Troyens at Covent Garden.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Musical Times, Vol. 104 No. 1450 (December 1963), p. 878
  3. ^ Musical Times, vol. 105, No. 1451 (January 1964), p. 78
  4. ^ Anthony Tommasini, Restoring Luster to a Dark Melodrama, New York Times, 13 October 1998
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Opera-L Archives
  7. ^ Strauss: Elektra

External links[edit]

  • Marie Collier Collection in the Performing Arts Collection, the Arts Centre, Melbourne (magazine and newspaper clippings, photographs, programmes, scrapbooks etc.)