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Della Jones (Mezzo-soprano)

Born: April 13, 1946 - Tonna, near Neath, Wales, UK

The Welsh mezzo-soprano, Della Jones, studied at the Royal College of Music, where she won the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Scholarship, and later in Geneva.

Della Jones made her professional debut in 1970, as Feodor and Olga. Her career took off when she joined the English National Opera in 1977, performing there many of the standard mezzo roles as well as contemporary music. She joined the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1983. Since then she has performed regularly with all the major British companies, and began appearing abroad notably in France, Italy, and the USA.

One of the most versatile performers on the international classical circuit, Della Jones is equally at home in early music and contemporary repertoire, with a speciality in the bel canto operas, notably of Rossini. She is one of the few performers whose voice and dramatic talents seem to be suited to all kinds of music, spanning five centuries; from Monteverdi through Purcell, George Frideric Handel, W.A. Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and Wagner to Alban Berg, Edmund Rubbra, Benjamin Britten, Leonard Bernstein and Peter Maxwell Davies - with a touch of Gilbert and Sullivan on the way.

Dramatically, Della Jones has a flair for both comedy and tragedy, playing the full range of heroines, maids, confidantes and villains. As with all mezzo-sopranos, she is also just as likely to appear in breeches in the many 'trouser roles' written for that voice, such as Mozart's Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro and many roles in G.F. Handel and Monteverdi operas. Her awesome coloratura technique has inspired envy in her fellow singers. In the words of Marilyn Hill Smith, quoted in Divas In Their Own Words by Andrew Palmer: "Della Jones is a classic example of a mezzo for whom coloratura appears to be no effort. It sounds disgusting to say this, but it's like she's being sick: she just opens her mouth, and wallop out it comes."

On the concert stage, Della Jones regularly performs in music as diverse as Verdi's monumental Requiem and recitals of intimate and lyrical French song, and at such grand events as the handover of Hong Kong in 1997 and the Last Night of the Proms in 1993.

Della Jones has recorded prolifically throughout her career. Much of this is in the field of opera, but she has also recorded song recitals and concert music, including a good deal of contemporary music. She has also made many appearances on radio and television both in Britain and abroad. In the mid 1970's she began a long association with Opera Rara, appearing in many long forgotten bel canto works, both on stage and on recording. She can be heard in complete recording of Donizetti's Ugo, conte di Parigi, L'assedio di Calais, Maria Padilla, Meyerbeer's Il crociato in Egitto and Rossini's Ricciardo e Zoraide and made a solo album with the title "Della Jones sings Donizetti", in all of which one can appreciate her impeccable coloratura technique and strong feeling for words and music. For Chandos records she also made albums such as "Great Operatic Arias - Della Jones". She has also recorded the Rubbra Symphonies with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Richard Hickox.

Della Jones is still at home in the international opera and concert world today. She currently lives in South-East England. She has continued to return to her native Wales throughout her career, and recent appearances have included the gala concert in Cardiff Bay for the opening of Welsh Assembly and the Millennium Gala at St David's Hall.

Source: Wikipedia Website [based on Le guide de l'opéra, les indispensables de la musique, R. Mancini & J-J. Rouvereux, (Fayard, 1995)]; BBC Wales Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (December 2008)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




William Christie


G.F. Handel: Opera Alcina, HWV 34 [1st recording, 1990, Ruggiero]

Richard Hickox


G.F. Handel: Opera Alcina, HWV 34 [1st recording, 1985, Ruggiero]

Links to other Sites

Della Jones (Wikipedia)
Della Jones (BBC Wales)
East Surrey Choral Society: Della Jones, President

Della Jones - Biography (Naxos)
Della Jones (Opera Rara)

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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