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Information about the Recording
  • Published by: OoV  
  • Date Published: 2023  
  • Format: Unknown
  • Quality Video: 3 Audio:3
  • Subtitles: nosubs  
  • Video Recording from: YouTube     FULL VIDEO

Dame Gwyneth Jones DBE (born 7 November 1936) is a Welsh dramatic soprano, widely regarded as one of the greatest Wagnerian sopranos in the second half of the 20th century.

Jones was born in Pontnewynydd, Monmouthshire, Wales. Before becoming a professional singer, she worked as a secretary at the Pontypool foundry. She studied music at the Royal College of Music, London, the Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Siena) as well as the International Opera Studio (Zürich).

After making her professional debut in 1962 as a mezzo-soprano in Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice, she was engaged by the Zurich Opera House. She discovered that her easy top range could enable her to sing soprano roles and she switched to the soprano repertoire from around 1964, her first major soprano role being Amelia in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera.

Jones came to prominence in 1964 when she stood in for Leontyne Price as Leonora in Verdi’s Il trovatore at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Her career then developed rapidly, and she met with success as Aïda, Leonore (in Fidelio), Desdemona (in Otello), Elisabeth (in Don Carlos), Donna Anna (in Don Giovanni), Cio-cio-san (in Madama Butterfly), Lady Macbeth (in Verdi’s Macbeth), Santuzza (in Cavalleria rusticana), Octavian (in Der Rosenkavalier), Médée (in the Italian version) and Tosca.

From these, she gradually proceeded to heavier roles such as Chrysothemis (in Elektra), Salome, the Marschallin (in Der Rosenkavalier), Eva (in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Senta (in Der fliegende Holländer), Kundry (in Parsifal), both Venus and Elisabeth (in Tannhäuser), Helena (in Strauss’s Die ägyptische Helena), Ariadne (in Ariadne auf Naxos) and Sieglinde, as well as Brünnhilde (in Die Walküre). She has appeared frequently at the Vienna State Opera, the Zurich Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the San Francisco Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Paris Opéra, the Teatro alla Scala, the Los Angeles Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, as well as many prominent opera and music festivals.

She made her debut at Teatro alla Scala as Leonora in Il Trovatore on 4 April 1967. She returned to La Scala as the title role of Salome in January 1974. On 24 November 1972, she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House of New York as Sieglinde in Die Walküre. Until her last appearance at the Met on 22 April 1995 (as Kundry in Parsifal), she sang 11 parts in 10 operas for 93 times at the Met; the most frequent part was the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier (20 times). In August 1979, she made her debut at Salzburg Summer Festival as the Marschallin.

One of her most noted achievements was her interpretation of Brünnhilde in the Bayreuth Jahrhundertring (Centenary Ring) in 1976, celebrating the centenary of both the festival and the first performance of the complete cycle, conducted by Pierre Boulez and staged by Patrice Chéreau. It was recorded and filmed in 1979 and 1980 for both video and audio discs. The recording won a Grammy in 1983.

Her career at Bayreuth Festival is as below:

1966: Sieglinde in Die Walküre
1968: Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
1969: Senta in Der fliegende Holländer, Kundry in Parsifal
1970: Sieglinde in Die Walküre, Senta in Der fliegende Holländer, Kundry in Parsifal
1971: Sieglinde in Die Walküre, Senta in Der fliegende Holländer
1972: Elisabeth and Venus in Tannhäuser, Sieglinde in Die Walküre
1973: Elisabeth and Venus in Tannhäuser, Sieglinde in Die Walküre
1974: Elisabeth and Venus in Tannhäuser, Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung
1975: Brünnhilde in Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle
1976: Brünnhilde in Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle (Jahrhundertring )
1977: Brünnhilde in Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle, Elisabeth and Venus in Tannhäuser
1978: Brünnhilde in Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle
1979: Brünnhilde in Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle
1980: Brünnhilde in Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle
1982: Senta in Der fliegende Holländer
Later in her career (from 1980 onwards), she undertook the title role of Elektra, Isolde (in Tristan und Isolde), the Dyer’s Wife (in Die Frau ohne Schatten), Turandot, and Minnie (in La fanciulla del West). While best known for her work in the Wagner-Strauss-Puccini repertoire, her versatility enabled her to take on other roles, such as Poppea (in L’incoronazione di Poppea), Hanna Glawari (in The Merry Widow) and Norma. Starting from the 1990s, other than the aforementioned parts, she went on to sing Widow Begbick (Mahagonny), Ortrud (in Lohengrin), the Woman in Arnold Schoenberg’s Erwartung, the Kostelnicka (in Jenůfa), the Kabanicha (in Káťa Kabanová), the Woman in Poulenc’s La voix humaine, Ruth (in The Pirates of Penzance), Gertrud (in Hänsel und Gretel), Herodias (in Salome) and Klytämnestra (in Elektra). She appeared as the Dyers Wife in Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Cologne Opera in 1980 in a production by Jean Pierre Ponnelle, conducted by John Pritchard, with Walter Berry as the Dyer, Róbert Ilosfalvy as the Emperor, Siv Wennberg as the Empress, and Helga Dernesch as the Amme.[4]

Jones made roles that exemplify the Wagnerian or heavy dramatic soprano fach, such as Brünnhilde, Isolde, Elektra, the Dyer’s Wife and Turandot, part of her core repertoire, and performed them throughout the 1980s and 1990s. She once famously undertook the roles of both Elisabeth and Venus in Götz Friedrich’s production of Tannhäuser at the Bayreuth Festival in the 1970s, and has also been credited with the rare achievement of having performed all three major female roles in Elektra on stage.

She also performed in concerts and lieder recitals, television and radio broadcasts and participated in several film projects, including the epic television series, Wagner, in which she played the first Isolde, Malvina Schnorr von Carolsfeld. She has also devised for herself a couple of music-theatrical shows – Oh Malvina![5] and Die Frau im Schatten – which are inspired by real historical characters, namely, Malvina Schnorr von Carolsfeld and Pauline de Ahna (wife of Richard Strauss). The soprano part in the Symphony No. 9, titled “Vision of Eternity”, of Welsh composer Alun Hoddinott was written for, and premiered by, her.
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