Edna Thornton


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(b Bradford, 1875; d Worthing, 15 July 1964). English contralto. She was a pupil of Charles Santley and made her début in the musical comedy Ib and Little Christina at Daly's Theatre, London, in 1899. At Covent Garden she first appeared in 1905, singing with Caruso in Un ballo in maschera and Rigoletto. She took part in the English première of Alberto Franchetti's Germania in 1907, and the following year made an impression as Erda in the first Ring cycle given in English under Hans Richter. In one performance of Götterdämmerung she undertook three roles: First Norn, Waltraute and Flosshilde. Other roles in the pre-war seasons included Brangäne (Tristan und Isolde), Geneviève (Pelléas et Mélisande) and Giulietta (Les contes d'Hoffmann). She sang with the Beecham company at Drury Lane and the Aldwych, and was later a mainstay of the British National Opera Company, singing a wide range of parts including Amneris and Azucena, Delilah and Marfa (Khovanshchina). After tours in Canada, Australia and New Zealand with the Quinlan Company in 1924 she retired to teach. ‘Regal’ was a favourite word of critics to describe her acting and bearing on stage, while records confirm that she had an exceptionally strong, resourceful contralto voice to match.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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