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Jean Watson (Contralto)

Born: April 25, 1909 - Belfast, Ireland

The Irish-born Canadian contralto, Jean Watson, was trained at the Conservatoire of Toronto. In 1920 she was naturalized to Canadian, and the same year moved to Hamilton, Ontario.

Jean Watson sang then numerous concerts in Canada, before her debut in 1940 in the USA on the occasion of the Bethlehem Festival. In the following decade she attracted attention in America, when she appeared with conductors such as Serge Koussevitzky, Eugene Ormandy, Aynsley Eugène Goossens and Bruno Walter in the concert hall.

In 1949 Jean Watson came to Europe and in the same year became a member of the Covent Garden Opera in London, at which she sang a number of alto roles during the following five seasons, among them Annina in Rosenkavalier, Erda in Der Ring des Nibelungen, Mary in Fliegenden Holländer, Flora in La Traviata, Amme in Boris Godunov, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, later also Azucena in Troubadour and Amneris in Aida. She participated at the Covent Garden Opera in the premiere of The Pilgrim's Progress by Ralph Vaughan Williams with (April 1951). At the Sadler's Wells Opera in London she could be heard in 1953 as Amme in the English first performance of the opera Romeo and Julia by H. Sutermeister. In 1954 she came to the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, where her first role was Marina in Boris Godunov, then Dalila in Samson et Dalila by Camille Saint-Saëns. In 1955-1957 she was engaged at the Opera House of Nürnberg. In 1955 she appeared at the Festival of Bayreuth as Siegrune in Die Walküre. She saw herself forced by an illness to give up her career in Europe and returned again to her Canadian homeland.

Recordings: few Columbia recordings; on Melodram Ulrica in complete rendition of Il Ballo in maschera (Covent Garden Opera, 1949).

Source: Operissimo Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (June 2004); Ruud Janssen (February 2006)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2004); Manfred Krugmann (Photos 01-03, July 2011)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works

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Bruno Walter

Alto

BWV 244 (1st Part)

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Last update: July 8, 2012 18:51:30