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Sally Le Sage (Soprano)

Born: 1937 - Farnborough, Kent, England
Died: September 23, 2013

The English soprano and singing teacher, Sally Elizabeth Le Sage (née Dowdall), was the youngest of three daughters of Joan (nee Baker) and Jack Dowdall, an advertising executive who coined the phrase: "If you want to get ahead, get a hat." Their parents met singing in an amateur show. Their mother died when Sally was a year old. Between the ages of 2 to 6, she lived in hospital with TB in the hip. At 8 she was able to have an operation to stabilise the hip and then went to Badminton school in Bristol. She studied opera at the Royal College of Music in London in her 20s. There she won an exhibition and many major prizes. She toured the USA and Canada with the famous Deller Consort from 1964 to 1967. After which, in 1967, she won second prize in the prestigious International Singing Competition in s'Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. The critic of the Dutch newspaper De Tijd said of her: "She was kissed by the muses who gave her a very lovely voice." The following year she was awarded a scholarship to study Lieder and French song with Pierre Bernac in Paris.

Sally Le Sage was a highly acclaimed soprano. She had a beautiful bell-like voice and was also a talented actor. She soon became known for her recital and oratorio work. She appeared in concerts throughout Britain, Europe and the USA, including at the Vienna, Aix, Ghent and Three Choirs Festivals. She also participated in many BBC concerts and recitals. Other concert repertoire included M. Ravel's L'Enfant et les Sortileges in Leeds with Simon Rattle; J. Haydn's Nelson Mass at the Carnegie Hall, New York. USA; L.v. Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 for Dutch Television in Amsterdam; W.A. Mozart's C minor Mass at the Royal Festival Hall with Charles Groves; A Child of Our Time in Stockholm conducted by Michael Tippett; Messiah with the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester; Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 at the Albert Hall in London. She had opera appearances with Scottish Opera: The Woodbird in Wagner's Siegfried at Covent Garden and Glyndebourne; Teofane in George Frideric Handel's Ottone at Sadler's Wells Theatre; Ann Trulove in The Rake's Progress by Igor Stravinsky at Cambridge Arts Theatre.

In later life, Sally Le Sage taught singing for a period at the Royal College of Music and also at Clare College, Cambridge. She retired to Malvern in the early 2000's but still taught singing. Her sister Ann Neate became a singer, under the name Ann Dowdall, and her sister Susan Dowdall (who died in 1999) was an actor. Sally Le Sage died in September 2013 after a sudden attack of pancreatitis, aged 76. She is survived by her sister Ann Neate, and by her nieces and nephews. She will be remembered for her engaging and loving personality, her warmth of spirit and unending sense of fun.

Recordings include: Albums for Vanguard, Nonsuch, Harmonia Mundi, Oryx and RCA Victor (with Montserrat Caballé). Her hobbies were: Painting; Crafts; Swimming; Gardening.

Source: International Who's Who in Music & International Directory (13th Edition, 1992/93); Obituary in The Guardian (Author: Ann Neate, January 7, 2014); Bits & pieces from other sources
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2005, June 2014); Manfred Krugmann (Dates & Photo 01, June 2014)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Paul Steinitz


BWV 10, BWV 47

Links to other Sites

Sally Le Sage Obituary (The Guardian) [Jan 7, 2014]


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