Bernadette Greevy

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Bernadette Greevy
Birth name Bernadette Greevy
Born (1940-07-03)3 July 1940
Origin Dublin, Ireland
Died 26 September 2008(2008-09-26) (aged 68)
Genres Classical
Occupation(s) Singer

Bernadette Greevy (3 July 1940 – 26 September 2008) was an Irish mezzo-soprano.[1] She was founder and artistic director of the Anna Livia Dublin International Opera Festival.[2] She was the first artist-in-residence at the Dublin Institute of Technology's Faculty of Applied Arts.


Bernadette Greevy was born in Clontarf, Dublin, and was one of seven children. She went to school at the Holy Faith Convent in Clontarf and later studied in Dublin with Jean Nolan and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with Helene Isepp.[3]

Greevy made her first appearance on the operatic stage at the age of 18 in the role of Siebel in Gounod's Faust at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre.[2] She appeared in Julius Benedict's opera, The Lily of Killarney at Dublin's Olympia Theatre in 1960, alongside Veronica Dunne, John Carolan and Denis Noble with conductor Fr. John O'Brien and the Glasnevin Musical Society. In 1961, she made her professional operatic debut as Maddalena in the Dublin Grand Opera Society's production of Verdi's Rigoletto.[4] She appeared at the Wexford Festival in 1962 as Beppe in Pietro Mascagni's L'amico Fritz. She made her Royal Opera House début in 1982 as Genevieve in Claude Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande.

However, Greevy never developed the acting skills necessary for true operatic success, and made her musical mark instead in the world of oratorio and song recitals. She was introduced to works such as Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius and Handel's Messiah by Sir John Barbirolli, and later recorded music by Mahler, Bach and Haydn.[5]

A 1966 review by Howard Klein in The New York Times of Greevy's recording of Handel arias stated: "The voice has the firm, compact resonance of a true contralto. She has endless breath and can move her voice with agility and precision."[6]

Greevy had a special affinity with Mahler, in particular his orchestral song cycles. In 1966, she performed Kindertotenlieder in London with the then RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. The Times praised the 26-year-old Greevy's "full, glowing voice, rich and firm at the bottom, radiant at the top, and gloriously expressive phrasing".[7] Later, in the 1990s, she performed all Mahler's vocal works with orchestra over a four-year period in the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Greevy chose to live in her native Dublin throughout her career rather than be based in one of the world's major music centres. She maintained confidently that "if you're good enough you can live where you like". Nevertheless, this decision undoubtedly curtailed her opportunities in the recording studio and on the concert stage.[4]

Bernadette Greevy died aged 68 following a short illness.[8] She was married to Peter Tattan, who predeceased her in 1983. They had one son, Hugh.[3]

Operatic roles[edit]

Awards and honours[edit]

These include:

Selected recordings[edit]


  1. ^ Noël Goodwin, "Greevy (Tattan), Bernadette", Oxford Music Online
  2. ^ a b The Irish Times, "Festival seeks to promote opera among young people", 3 September 2008
  3. ^ a b The Irish Times, "Tributes paid to Bernadette Greevy", 30 September 2008
  4. ^ a b The Irish Times, "Mezzo's talent matched by uncompromising principles", 4 October 2008
  5. ^ The Irish Times, "A remarkable voice of remarkable longevity", 30 September 2008
  6. ^ The New York Times, "Gwyneth Jones is a Comer", 18 December 1966, page X27
  7. ^ The Times, "Ireland sends her best to London", 1 December 1966
  8. ^ The Irish Times, "Death announced of soprano Bernadette Greevy", 29 September 2008, 14:38