Edith Coates


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(b Lincoln, 31 May 1908; d Worthing, 7 Jan 1983). English mezzo-soprano. She studied at Trinity College of Music, London. In 1924 she joined the Old Vic opera chorus and was soon singing small roles. When the company moved to Sadler's Wells in 1931 she became its leading mezzo-soprano, singing in the first English performances of The Snow Maiden (as Lel’) and The Tale of Tsar Saltan, both in 1933, and appearing as Eboli in 1938. In 1945 she created Auntie in Peter Grimes. Having made her Covent Garden début in 1937 she became a member of the company in 1947, remaining until 1967. Though not invariably successful in dramatic parts like Azucena, Fricka, Amneris and Carmen, she had striking acting ability and stage presence. She created roles in The Olympians (1949) and Gloriana (1953) and sang the Countess in the first production in English of The Queen of Spades (1950). In 1966 she created Grandma in Grace Williams's The Parlour for the WNO (1961). She was made an OBE in 1977.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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