Dame Gwyneth Jones is…
  • one of the greatest sopranos of the latter half of the twentieth century
  • a diva whose critics are as vehement as her supporters are devoted
  • an artist who is not to be taken lightly
  • a veteran performer who seems to be showing no sign of easing out of her 33 year career, even though her repertoire is changing 
And that is why parterre box dedicates this UNOFFICIAL fanpage to Dame Gwyneth Jones.

Born in 1937 in Pontnewynydd in Wales, Gwyneth Jones studied at London's Royal College of Music, supporting herself by working at the Moo Cow Milk Bar before winning prizes that allowed her to continue her studies. She also studied voice in Sienna and Zurich (where she now lives) and later in her career was a student of Dame Eva Turner, learning from her the role of Turandot that was to become the greatest triumph of the latter part of her career.

She made her professional debut as a mezzo-soprano in 1962 in Zurich (which remains a staunch 'Gwyneth Town' and indeed where she now lives). Her first soprano role was the Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera. After that performance she was approached by a representative of the management of Covent Garden, asking what her repertory was. Miss Jones' answer: "You've just heard it!" 

Her early career centered around the Italian repertory. She jumped in as the Trovatore Leonora at Covent Garden in 1964, replacing an ailing Leontyne Price and scored an "overnight" success. She soon added such roles as Desdemona, Elisabetta de Valois, Aida, Lady Macbeth, Tosca, Butterfly and Santuzza in the UK, Europe, the US and Japan. 

Only weeks after her surprise success in Trovatore, Jones was asked to substitute for another indisposed prima donna. This role, Leonore in Fidelio, pointed the way to the German repertoire for which she has become so celebrated -- including Der Rosenkavalier (Bernstein's favorite Octavian, later Kleiber's choice for the Marschallin) and the Ring (working her way up through Norns and Rhinemaidens through Gutrune and Sieglinde all the way to one of the greatest Brunnhildes of the postwar era). At Bayreuth in 1972, Jones established a precedent for sopranos to double as Elisabeth and Venus. In fact, with last season's addition of Ortrud to her repertoire, she has now sung all the leading Wagner soprano roles except Elsa. Her eight Strauss roles include an unbelievable performance of Die Frau ohne Schatten in which she sang both Barak's Wife and the Empress! 

Perhaps the greatest achivement of Dame Gwyneth's was the Brunnhilde in the Bayreuth centennial Ring Cycle under Pierre Boulez and directed by Patrice Chereau, a performance preserved on both video and audio disc.

Twenty-five years into her career, a time when most sopranos consolidate their repertoire into a few undemanding but grateful roles, Jones launched a whole series of new and exciting projects. At the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles she sang Turandot for the first time, and for over a decade she has distinuished herself as the world's supreme interpreter of this role. Other new parts include Minnie in La Fanciulla del West, and, more recently, "third-career" roles like the Kostelnicka, the widow Begbick in Mahagonny and the Mother in Hansel und Gretel. At the age of 59, she sang her first and (to date) only bel canto role. It is true the voice was on the unwieldy side for Norma, but Jones the artist showed an instinctive understanding of the style, making one wish she had tackled the role earlier in her career.

She is diversifying her career with the energy that has marked her intense performing schedule since the mid-sixties. In 1997 her schedule included over 70 opera and concert performances, including the

Farewell Ceremony marking the end of British administration of Hong Kong and a unique joint concert with countertenor Jochen Kowalski. Other recent projects are a one-woman show based on the life of Malvina Schnorr von Carolsfeld (the first Isolde), Lieder programmes, and master classes in London. 

Gwyneth Jones was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1986, is a Kammersangerin of both the Vienna and Bavarian Operas and a recipient of the German Cross of Merit, and the President of the

British Wagner Society, amongst other awards. She has an extensive discography of recorded and filmed performances. 

But primarily Gwyneth Jones is an artist of the theatre with a voice of immense richness and power that makes her a

favorite in the balconies and amphitheaters of the world's opera houses where her notes hit with force and cling to the farthest corners.

The text for this and the linked Gwyneth Jones fanpages is by Andrew Korniej. Design by James Jorden for parterre box


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