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Lorna Sydney (Mezzo-soprano)

Born: 1912 (?) - Perth, Australia

The grandfather of the Australian mezzo-soprano Lorna Sydney had been pianist and a singer, her father was well-known as cellist and a composer. She studied first piano playing and gave at the age of with 16 a concert with the Symphony Orchestra of Perth, with which she played the Piano Concerto Grieg. Later she sang with wandering Italian opera group in Perth the parts of Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana and Nedda in Bajazzo. After she finished the music studies at the Perth University, she taught music at Mädchenn Gymnasium. In the middle of the 1930’s her voice was discovered by the great Lotte Lehmann during an Australian tour of this artist, who enabled her then singing studies in Vienna. With the outbreak of the Second World War she should begin her career at the Berlin State Opera, however she was interned by the German authorities during the war years.

In 1946 Lorna Sydney came to the Vienna Volksoper, at which she had a great career until 1954. As the first role she sang Carmen in Vienna. She mastered altogether 47 major roles in operas of Verdi, Gluck, Wagner and Richard Strauss, under him she sang Klytaemnestra in Elektra, which she also performed at the Opera of New Orleans. In 1951 and 1955 she made guest appearances at the New York City Center Opera in Prokofieff’s L'Amour des trois oranges; on the American Television NBC she appeared as Herodias in Salome by Richard Strauss.

In addition Lorna Sydney was a high-estimated concert and oratorio soloist and a splendid Lieder interpreter. She made very successful concert tours in Austria as in Germany, in Italy and France, in North America and in Africa. Since 1959 she undertook five tours in her homeland Australia, whereby she appeared over the television broadcast of Radio Perth in a series ‘Presenting Lorna Sydney. High points in her concert career were appearances in the USA with Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy and a concert in the New York Town Hall in 1955. Since 1965 she gave interpretation courses in the USA, mainly for Lieder singing.

Recordings: Amadeo-Vanguard (Lieder from Des Knaben Wunderhorn by Gustav Mahler, Lieder by Johannes Brahms and R. Schumann, works of J.S. Bach and George Frideric Handel), Decca (Messiah), Telefunken, Vienna.

Source: Operissimo Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (July 2001)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2001); Manfred Krugmann (Photos 01-03, July 2011)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Jonathan Sternberg


BWV 34, BWV 46, BWV 104

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