Emma Matthews

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Emma Matthews (born 1970) is an English-born Australian lyric coloratura soprano, noted for operatic roles, but also popular on the concert stage. A Principal Artist with Opera Australia, Matthews has received more Helpmann Awards than any other individual artist, nine Green Room Awards, the Mo Award and the Remy Martin Australian Opera Award.

Life and career[edit]

Born Emma Lysons in Manchester, England, she grew up with three younger sisters in Fiji, where her father worked as a maritime pilot,[1] and Vanuatu before moving to Cairns, Queensland, Port Hedland, Western Australia, and finally Perth.[2] There she attended Perth Modern School[3] before studying musical theatre at the Western Australian Conservatorium of Music (part of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts), but was persuaded by a teacher to switch to opera. She sang with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Western Australia in 1990.[4] Since her 1991 professional debut with the West Australian Opera and appointment to Opera Australia in 1993, she has appeared in every state of Australia, notably with the State Opera of South Australia, Victorian State Opera and Opera Queensland, in Adelaide, Melbourne as well as frequent appearances at the Huntington Estate Music Festival for Musica Viva from 1994.

She is married to Stephen Matthews, a former chorister and later a stage mechanic with Opera Australia.[2]


Her first roles took advantage of her sweet light coloratura voice (capable of a top F6), her good looks, and her acting ability.[5] She has appeared for Opera Australia as:

Damigella in L'incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi) in 1993
Ilia in Idomeneo (Mozart)
Hero in Béatrice et Bénédict (Berlioz)
Papagena and Pamina in The Magic Flute (Mozart)
Oscar in Un ballo in maschera (Verdi)
Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier (Richard Strauss)
Marie in La fille du régiment (Donizetti)
Nannetta in Falstaff (Verdi)
Rosina in The Barber of Seville (Rossini)
Blonde and Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Mozart)
Morgana in Alcina (Handel)
Almirena in Rinaldo (Handel)
Servilia in La clemenza di Tito (Mozart)
Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)
Sophie in Werther (Massenet)
Adele in Die Fledermaus (Johann Strauss)

She has later taken on more challenging roles, often being compared with Joan Sutherland who, with her husband Richard Bonynge, was something of a friend and mentor.[6]

Ismene in Mitridate, re di Ponto (Mozart) (produced by Graham Vick) for the 2001 Sydney Festival
Stasi in Die Csárdásfürstin (Kálmán)
Genovieffa in Suor Angelica (Puccini)
all four heroines (Stella, Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta) in The Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach)
Zwaantie in Batavia (Richard Mills) 2001 world premiere
Lulu in Lulu (Alban Berg)
Bystrouškain/Sharpears, the Vixen in The Cunning Little Vixen (Janáček) for Opera Australia
Philomele in The Love of the Nightingale (Richard Mills) – 2007 world premiere
Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare (Handel)
Juliette in Roméo et Juliette (Gounod)
Lakmé in Lakmé (Delibes)
Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)
Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Bellini)
Gilda in Rigoletto (Verdi)
Violetta in La traviata (Verdi)

Matthews has also been well received in concerts, with a repertoire from Mozart's Requiem, Haydn Masses, and Handel's Messiah to works by Brahms, Poulenc and Villa Lobos, and Mahler's Symphonies No. 2 and No. 4. She appeared with José Carreras in Sydney 2008, then on New Year's Eve in Mozart's Great Mass in C minor with Sir Charles Mackerras and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Screen appearances[edit]

She appeared, billed as Emma Lysons, in the 1995 Alan John opera The Eighth Wonder about the Sydney Opera House, broadcast on ABC TV the night following its world premiere.[7][8]




  1. ^ [1] Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b Michael Shmith, "Looking after Lulu", The Age, 9 November 2002, Saturday Extra, p. 3
  3. ^ [2] Archived 12 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Gilbert & Sullivan Society of W.A. Programmes" (PDF). Slwa.wa.gov.au. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  5. ^ "Dial Em for murder". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 September 2003. Retrieved 14 September 2009.
  6. ^ "Emma Matthews in lead role of Opera Australia's new work". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  7. ^ "The Eighth Wonder (1995) (TV)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  8. ^ "The Eighth Wonder [video recording] – Version details – Trove". Nla.gov.au. 20 October 1995. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  9. ^ "CD: The edge : the music / by Nigel Westlake. [1996] : Product". Australian Music Centre. 29 August 2002. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  10. ^ [3] Archived 24 October 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Emma Matthews in Monte Carlo" (PDF). Buywell.com. Retrieved 14 August 2013.

External links[edit]