Jill Gomez

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Jill Gomez
Barbara Jill Gomez

21 September 1942
OccupationOpera and concert singer (Soprano)
Years active1960s – 2010

Jill Carnegy, Countess of Northesk (née Gomez) (born 21 September 1942) is a Trinidadian and British soprano who enjoyed an active career on the operatic stage and in the concert hall in a wide repertoire, and has made many recordings.

Life and career[edit]

Gomez was born in New Amsterdam, Guyana,[1] to Albert Clyde Gomez, a Spanish Trinidadian and to Denise Price Gomez (née Denham), and brought up in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Her father became managing director and vice-chairman of Angostura, the famous distillers, and her British mother was a well-known actress and broadcaster in Trinidad.

After studying at St. Joseph's Convent (Port of Spain) in Trinidad and dominating at the islands' biennial Music Festival, she moved to England at 13, where she studied voice and piano at London's Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where her most important teacher was Walther Gruner. While studying at Guildhall, Jill performed the role of Helen on alternate nights with contralto singer Ann Wilson, in The Conspirators (Shubert), directed by Brian Trowell. [2]

Her career began at Glyndebourne where she twice won the John Christie Award, making her solo operatic debut as Adina in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore with the Glyndebourne Touring Opera in 1968.[1] Also in 1968 came her Aminta in Il re pastore, at Ledlanet Nights.[3] Gomez then created the role of Flora in The Knot Garden at the Royal Opera, London in 1970 and that of the Countess in Thea Musgrave's The Voice of Ariadne at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1973. She also appeared in productions by the English National Opera (Governess), Scottish Opera (Elisabeth, Pamina, Anne Truelove, Leïla), Oper Frankfurt (Cleopatra), Kent Opera (Tatyana, Violetta, Aminta, Donna Anna), Glyndebourne (Mélisande, La Calisto), Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux (Fiordiligi), Wexford (Thaïs and Rosaura) and Teresa at the Berlioz Festival in Lyon.[4]

She worked closely with Jonathan Miller in La traviata for Kent Opera (Edinburgh Festival and UK tour), and Eugene Onegin and The Turn of the Screw (with ENO). She also played the Governess with the English Opera Group with the composer, Benjamin Britten, present.[5]

Gomez was outspoken about the "international opera circus" and had no ambition to sing at the largest houses, preferring smaller venues such as Zürich where there is sufficient rehearsal time.[5] She appeared in Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's production of Lucio Silla there, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. She also sang Arne cantatas with Jaap Schröder and Concerto Amsterdam.[5] She took part in Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with the Israel Philharmonic under Solti. As well as recording of Ravel, with Boulez she performed the Webern Opp. 13 and 14 song cycles.[5]

In 1995 Gomez created the lead role of the Duchess of Argyll in Powder Her Face. Her recording of the latter role was nominated for a Grammy Award, and in Allmusic Erik Eriksson wrote: "Gomez's portrayal is a tour de force, alternately opulent and unhinged. She achieves the difficult task of making a figure of ridicule into a person who evokes sympathy from the listener."[6] Alongside The Knot Garden and The Voice of Ariadne, she was also in the premieres of Miss Julie (William Alwyn, 1979) and Maddalena (Prokofiev, radio, 1980).[4]

Her TV debut was in the series Music Now produced by John Drummond in 1968–69,[7] and other TV and film credits include the French film Une Femme française, and television programmes A Ladies Knight! (1987), Rattle on Britten (1985) and a BBC programme Opera in Rehearsal: The Marriage of Figaro Act 2 with Anthony Besch (1973).[8]

Gomez lives in Cambridgeshire with her husband, music critic Patrick Carnegy, 15th Earl of Northesk.[9]

Selected discography[edit]


  1. ^ a b Blyth, A. Jill Gomez. In: The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Macmillan, London and New York, 1997.
  2. ^ "You should be in opera" by Michael Church, in Caribbean Beat magazine (Issue #7, 1993) Archived 7 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ http://www.operascotland.org/tour/228/Re-Pastore-1968
  4. ^ a b Adam, Nicky (ed). Jill Gomez. In: Who's Who in British Opera. Scolar Press, Aldershot, 1993
  5. ^ a b c d Symbolic confusion Jill Gomez talks to Simon Mundy. Classical Music 29 March 1980.
  6. ^ Erik Eriksson, Jill Gomez Biography, Allmusic, All Media Guide, LLC. (accessed 6 December 2007)
  7. ^ Drummond, J. Tainted by Experience. Faber & Faber, London, 2000, p171.
  8. ^ British Film Institute search for Jill Gomez, accessed 15 January 2014.
  9. ^ Moss, Stephen (9 May 2007), "Desperately seeking Wagner", The Guardian, retrieved 30 March 2010
  • Warrack, John and West, Ewan (1992), The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 782 pages, ISBN 0-19-869164-5