Early life and career
Isobel Buchanan was born in 1954 in Glasgow, Scotland. In 1971, she received a scholarship to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where in 1974, she was awarded with Student of the Year prize. She also won the Governor's Recital Prize that same year.
She signed a three-year contract with The Australian Opera in 1975 to pursue her career in singing and in 1976 made her professional opera debut as Pamina in the company's production of The Magic Flute. She was the youngest Principal Artist in the company's history. She made her British debut in 1978 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, again as Pamina in a new production by John Cox. (She returned to Glyndebourne in 1981 as Countess Almaviva in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and reprised the role at the 1984 has grown lot Festival.)
In 1978, she sang Micaela in Carmen at the Vienna State Opera, conducted by Carlos Kleiber with Plácido Domingo as Don José and Elena Obraztsova as Carmen, in a production by Franco Zeffirelli. She continued adding to her repertoire with Sophie in Massenet's Werther and a Flower Maiden in Wagner's Parsifal at the Royal Opera House in 1979. Since then, she has appeared at many other major opera houses and companies including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Scottish Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Hamburg State Opera, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, and the Cologne Opera. She has collaborated with many renowned conductors, including Georg Solti, Bernard Haitink, Andrew Davis, Colin Davis, Sergiu Celibidache, John Pritchard, Neville Marriner, Carlos Kleiber and Yehudi Menuhin.
The BBC made a documentary of her career in 1981. She featured in three-part series called Isobel which was recorded in August 1983 and aired on BBC the following April. In 1983 she played Diana in the BBC television production of Orpheus in the Underworld. and also appeared in TV programmes such as Face the Music and Parkinson.
In 1990 she sang at HM The Queen Mother's 90th Birthday celebration at the London Palladium in a section dedicated to Scotland where she sang My Ain Folk appearing with Her Majesty's PM John Spoore and actress Geraldine McEwan with a reading of recollections of childhood in Glamis.
Her repertory includes:
|1973||Puccini||Suor Angelica||Sister Genovieffa|
|Mozart||The Magic Flute||Pamina|
|Mozart||Così fan tutte||Dorabella|
|1979||Verdi||Simon Boccanegra||Maria Boccanegra|
|1981||Mozart||The Marriage of Figaro||Countess Almaviva|
|1982||Mozart||Don Giovanni||Donna Elvira|
|1984||Poulenc||Dialogues of the Carmelites||Blanche de la Force|
- Bizet: Carmen (Elena Obraztsova, Plácido Domingo, Isobel Buchanan, Wiener Staatsoper orchestra and chorus, Carlos Kleiber) DVD TDK 8 24121 00097 4
- Bellini: La sonnambula (Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Isobel Buchanan, Della Jones, National Philharmonic Orchestra, London Opera Chorus, Richard Bonynge) CD Decca 2LH417-424
- Delibes: Lakmé (Joan Sutherland, Isobel Buchanan, Huguette Tourangeau, Henri Wilden, John Pringle, Elizabeth Sydney Orchestra, Australian Opera Chorus, Richard Bonynge) DVD Kultur Video 32031 00389
- Massenet: Werther (José Carreras, Frederica von Stade, Isobel Buchanan, Thomas Allen, Robert Lloyd, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Colin Davis) CD Philips 00289 475 7567
- Puccini: Suor Angelica (Joan Sutherland, Christa Ludwig, Anne Collins, Isobel Buchanan, National Philharmonic Orchestra, Richard Bonynge) CD Decca 458218
- Isobel Buchanan biography, Samling Foundation. Accessed 18 November 2008.
- Biography, Liner notes for Isobel Buchanan: Songs of Scotland, Lismor Recordings, LCOM6038. Accessed 18 November 2008.
- Young, Andrew (3 April 1984). "Isobel's back on song". The Glasgow Herald. p. 4. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
- "Orpheus in the Underworld", British Film Institute, retrieved 10 April 2013.
- Gordon, Amanda - Out & About: RSC Goes Brooklyn Even Bigger Than BAM, The New York Sun, 10 October 2007. Accessed 18 November 2008.
- Isobel Buchanan on IMDb
- Photograph of Buchanan rehearsing Cosi fan tutte in the Sydney opera house, 1976, National Library of Australia.
- Performances in opera houses, conductors Frome Festival, 2008.
- Interview with Isobel Buchanan by Bruce Duffie, 14 October 1981