Dame Joan Hammond

(1912—1996) singer

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New Zealand soprano. She was created DBE in 1974.

After studying singing and the violin at Sydney Conservatory, she played the violin for three years with the Sydney Philharmonic Orchestra. She made her operatic debut in 1929 with the Williamson Imperial Grand Opera Company in Sydney and thereafter studied singing in London (with Dino Borgioli) and also in Vienna. Hammond made her London debut in a recital in 1938. From 1942 to 1945 she sang with the Carl Rosa Opera, her roles including Violetta, Mimi, Tosca, and Cio-cio-san; she made her Covent Garden debut in 1948 singing Leonora in Verdi's Il trovatore. At Sadler's Wells in 1951 she sang Elizabeth in Verdi's Don Carlos and in 1959 took on the title role in Dvořák's Rusalka there (the first professional British stage performance of that opera). She also sang in New York, with the City Centre Opera (1949), and in Moscow and Leningrad (now St Petersburg), singing (in Russian) Tatyana in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. She sang Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas at the 1959 Bath Festival. As well as opera, Hammond's repertory included a wide range of choral works and oratorio; her strong vibrant voice, excellent projection, and expressive interpretation can be heard in many recordings, of which the aria O mio babbino caro from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi sold over a million copies and won her EMI's Golden Disc of 1969. She retired in 1965 and published her autobiography, A Voice, A Life, in 1970.

Subjects: Music.

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