Dame Gwyneth Jones

Dame Gwyneth Jones

Soprano

• Born 1936

Biography

Dame Gwyneth Jones has achieved remarkable success throughout her vocal career. Best known for her performances of Turandot and the role of Brünnhilde, she has brought an attractive stage presence, total musicianship, a highly controlled voice, and thorough emotional and dramatic involvement to all of her appearances.

Gwyneth Jones was born to Edward George and Violet Webster Jones in 1936, in Pontnewynydd, Wales. Her studies with Arnold Smith and Ruth Packer at the Royal College of Music in London were made possible by a scholarship from the County Council. She also studied at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, at Herbert Graf's International Opera Centre in Zurich, and with Maria Carpi in Geneva. Jones' professional debut, as a mezzo-soprano, was the role of Annina in Der Rosenkavalier with the Zurich Opera in 1962. Shortly afterwards, she noticed her voice moving upward, which allowed her to sing her first soprano role of Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera. She was also heard singing Lady Macbeth for the Welsh National Opera and the Royal Opera, and heard filling in for Leontyne Price and Régine Crespin at Covent Garden. After performing roles such as Santuzza, Desdemona, Donna Anna, Aida, and Tosca, she made appearances at the Vienna State Opera, La Scala, and at principal opera houses in Berlin, Paris, Hamburg, and Rome. On the experiences she commented, "It has given me a special thrill to be accepted at the source -- Verdi and Puccini at La Scala, Mozart and Beethoven in Munich and Vienna, and Wagner at Bayreuth."

Shortly after Jones made her 1966 American (New York) debut as the title role in Cherubini's Medea, she married Till Haberfeld, a director, with whom she had one child. She achieved American success with her performance of Fidelio with the San Francisco Opera and for her Metropolitan Opera debut as Sieglinde in Die Walküre on November 26, 1972. One of Jones' greatest achievements was doing all three Brünnhilde roles in the summer of 1975 at the Bayreuth centennial Ring Cycle under Pierre Boulez and Patrice Chéreau. Jones entered a phase of her career when at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, she gave her first performance of Turandot, a role she had learned from her former teacher Dame Eva Turner. This feat was regarded as one of the greatest triumphs of the later portion of Jones' career, during which she became known as the world's finest interpreter of this role. She also took on the roles of Minnie in La Fanciulla del West, the widow Begbick in Mahagonny, and the mother in Hänsel und Gretel. Jones continued the same energetic performance schedule she began early in her career well into her sixties; in 1999 she had 70 opera and concert performances planned. She was made a Dame of the British Empire, received the German Cross of Merit, and is a Kammersängerin of both the Vienna and Bavarian Operas.

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