When did you start singing?
Age 12. I had always sung before but only found my true voice at this age. My father was a bass player and had been playing in the orchestra for a performance of The Mikado. Whilst travelling back home I imitated the voice of Katisha and out came this big plummy rich sound… My father nearly drove off the road!
Why did you start singing?
Because I had a voice and loved singing!! When I was 13 my mother bought me 3 LP’s, one of Callas, one of Tebaldi and one of Sutherland. It was the first time I had heard real opera singing and I became totally obsessed. From that moment onwards it has been my life and soul. I went to Music conservatory part time at the age of 16 and began full time at the age of 18.
Which singer inspired you most when you were young?
Which singer do you most admire?
What’s your favourite role?
As a soprano it was Medea and I sang both the French and Italian versions in many different productions. As a mezzo my current favourite is Klytaemnestra closely followed by Mme de Croissy and Kostelnicka. Also I had a great time with Amneris, it was like having a night off after having sung Aida so many times.
What role have you never played but would have liked to?
Elektra, Marschallin, Ortrud.
What’s your favourite opera to watch?
Marriage of Figaro.
Who is your favourite composer?
Who is your favourite writer?
Love many of the classical writers of English Literature and plays therefore it has to be Charles Dickens and Shakespeare with Jane Austen a close third.
Who is your favourite director?
Keith Warner because he is loyal to me and in my eyes a great director.
Who is your favourite actor?
The late Jimmy Stewart… (just watched It’s a Wonderful Life for the billionth time… I’m an old fashioned girl). Also loved Richard Burton… (that voice). BUT there are so many more… top of the list being Dustin Hoffmann and on the female side, who else but Meryl Streep.
Who is your favourite dancer?
It was Rudolf Nureyev… today Carlos Acosta.
What is your favourite book?
What is your favourite film?
Which is your favourite city?
What do you like most about yourself?
What do you dislike about yourself?
I wish I didn’t worry so much.
What was your proudest moment?
Receiving my OBE.
When and where were you happiest?
A couple of weeks ago in an Italian restaurant with my husband son and daughter.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
What is your greatest fear?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Not to worry.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Singing with all 3 of “The Three Tenors” in the same year, 1984. Recorded Il Trovatore with Domingo, sang Maddalena opposite Carreras’s Andrea Chenier and Aida opposite Pavarotti.
What is your most treasured possession?
My engagement ring.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I’m not an extravagant person!!
On what occasion do you lie?
I never lie but sometimes don’t speak the truth when I should.
If you hadn’t been a singer what would you have liked to be?
What is your most marked characteristic?
My mop of curly hair.
What quality do you most value in a friend?
Trust and loyalty.
What quality do you most value in a colleague?
Friendship and being able to be part of a team… (no time for prima donnas).
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Which living person do you most admire?
What do you most dislike?
Noisy crowded cities.
What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
Sitting in the sunshine on top of one of my beloved Lake District Mountains… (yes it’s a very rare occasion with English weather… but I have done it several times), with the wind in my hair sipping tea from a from a flask.
How would you like to die?
In my sleep.
What is your motto?
“To thine own self be true…” William Shakespeare.
Roslalind Plowright — a biography
Rosalind Plowright is known for her intelligent musicianship, versatile acting ability and compelling stage presence. Having conquered most of the leading soprano roles in Italian opera in the 1980s, she gravitated towards the dramatic mezzo-soprano repertoire, in which she similarly excels.
Her career spans 35 years, performing in virtually every major opera house in the world. Recent appearances have brought her to Covent Garden, The Metropolitan Opera, Paris, Japan and the Proms. On TV she appeared in two episodes of House of Elliott and The Man who made Husbands Jealous, the adaptation of Jilly Cooper’s novel. She helped develop and starred in Two’s a Crowd, a musical comedy which received five star reviews, and in 2009 joined with the Monty Python team for the Eric Idle and John Du Prez comic oratorio based on their film Life of Brian, entitled Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy).
Rosalind Plowright has performed with “The Three Tenors”. Her American début was alongside Jose Carreras and they also sang Andrea Chenier at Covent Garden and recorded La Forza del Destino for Deutsche Grammophon (which won best opera recording from Gramophone magazine). With Placido Domingo she has performed II Trovatore at Covent Garden and recorded the opera with him for Deutsche Grammophon for which she was personally awarded the Prix Fondation Fanny Heldy. With Luciano Pavarotti she performed Aida at Covent Garden and a gala concert for 25,000 at the Arena of Verona.
Other recordings include Mary Stuart, Otello, Aida and Hansel & Gretel (which won the Grammy for best recording) all for the Opera in English series for Chandos; Elijah for Chandos, La Vestale for Orfeo, Contes d’Hoffmann for EMI and Mahler 2nd Symphony for Deutsche Grammophon. Her DVD’s include her performances of Il Trovatore from Verona, Suor Angelica from La Scala, Hansel & Gretel from the Metropolitan Opera and Not the Messiah with the Monty Python team.
Among the many conductors with whom she has worked are Carlo Maria Giulini, Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado, Zubin Mehta, Giuseppi Sinopli, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Bernard Haitink, Antonio Pappano, Michael Gielen, Sylvain Cambreling, Mark Elder, Roger Norrington, Gustav Kuhn, Seiji Ozawa and Giuseppi Patane.
Rosalind Plowright has performed with all the major orchestras and has given many recitals with the late Geoffrey Parsons in over 20 international festivals. She gives Master Classes throughout the world and enjoys working with young artists through her home based Mini Master Class series. Over the next two years she will perform in Stuttgart, Bregenz, Madrid, Paris, La Scala and Covent Garden.
Rosalind Plowright was awarded the OBE in 2007 for her services to music.
Top photo: Rosalind Plowright as Médée – Royal Opera House 1989
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.