Mezzo-Soprano • Contralto
• 1931 — 2014
Often appears with
Anna Reynolds was a leading British mezzo-soprano with a strong Italian operatic career.
She was born Ann Reynolds in Canterbury, and studied piano as a girl. It was to train as a pianist that she went to London to attend the Royal Academy of Music. While she was there, her vocal talent became clear, and she changed her area of study to voice. She went to Rome to continue her voice studies with Debora Fambri and Re Koster. It was at this time that she adopted the name Anna.
She made her operatic debut in Parma in 1960 as Suzuki in Puccini's Madama Butterfly, then first appeared in Vicenza in 1961. She also sang regularly at Spoleto, Rome, Trieste, Venice, and La Scala in Milan.
Her British debut was in Glyndebourne in 1962 as Geneviève in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande. She scored another major success in her home country in 1963, when she sang the part of the Angel in Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius in London under the direction of Sir John Barbirolli in 1963. Another major Covent Garden success was her portrayal of Andromache in Tippett's King Priam.
Her Italian career continued to develop. In it she showed a great range of technique and style. Among her roles were Charlotte in Massenet's Werther, Elizabeth I in Bellini's Maria Stuarda, Rossini's Tancredi, Adelaide in Strauss' Arabella (her Covent Garden debut role in 1967), and Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.
She debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 1968 in the relatively small Wagnerian role of Flosshilde, but two years later, she made her first appearance at Bayreuth as Fricka in Die Walküre. She continued to sing annually at Bayreuth through 1975.
Also in 1970 she made her first appearance in the Salzburg Festival, and there she sang in the famous Wagner Ring cycle directed by Herbert von Karajan.
Some of her most important recordings document her effectiveness in the concert and recital repertory, including Bach cantatas, Schumann songs, participation in Leonard Bernstein's pioneering traversal of the complete Mahler symphonies, and, especially, Das Lied von der Erde and other Mahler songs. She participated in the premiere performances of the debut work by young British composer John Tavener, The Whale, and sang on its commercial LP release, the only classical release on The Beatles' own label, Apple Records.