The British soprano Heather Harper CBE, who excelled in works by Britten, Tippett and Strauss, has died at the age of 88.

Heather Harper Heather Harper (1930 – 2019)

Born in Belfast on May 8, 1930, Harper began her singing career as a mezzo in the Ambrosian and BBC choruses. After retraining as a soprano with noted pedagogues Frederick Husler and Yvonne Rodd-Marling, she made her debut as Lady Macbeth for the Oxford University Opera Club in 1954. These performances were critically acclaimed and led to an invitation to sing Violetta in a TV production of La Traviatain 1956 as well as Mimì in La Bohème. That same year saw Harper join the English Opera Group, with whom she would perform for the next two decades, with prominent engagements soon to follow – her Glyndebourne debut came in 1957, and her Covent Garden debut in 1962. She would appear annually with the company from 1963 to 1980, creating the roles of Nadia in Tippett’s The Ice Breakand Mrs Coyle in Britten’s Owen Wingravein her time there. Her final performances with the company was as Ellen Orford in 1981.

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