Major loss: A popular soprano quits the stage, far too soon

Major loss: A popular soprano quits the stage, far too soon


norman lebrecht

June 10, 2015

A few weeks ago it was announced that Lisa Milne, one of Scotland’s best-known sopranos, was taking up a teaching post at the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow. Today, Lisa has followed up with an interview in which she makes it clear that she won’t be singing opera again. Lisa is in her 40s, very much in her prime. So why?

It’s to do with human priorities.


lisa milne

During a period of family bereavements – among them her partner and a parent – she had to cancel some engagements. ‘Performing internationally can be a lonely old life, especially when you’re away from home worrying about your loved ones. Just weeks after Mum died I was singing Don Giovanni at Scottish Opera. It meant I lost touch with the grief that the rest of my family was going through at home.’

She also struggled with what she calls ‘industry image standards’. She underwent a gastric sleeve operation and breast reduction ‘in order to look right for the stage’, and got fed up with ‘constantly being told I wasn’t pretty enough, wasn’t slim enough, wasn’t tall enough. Eventually I thought, ‘s*** to this’. At some point I just want to be me.’

The loss is considerable. Lisa was a lovely singer who lit up a stage and refused to play the game. She spoke her mind where others mumbled euphemisms. She hit back at critics who spouted irresponsible abuse. She spoke in the vernacular, with plenty of unprintable words. She never held back, on stage or in life. She was real.

And now she’s gone. Dammit.

Read her interview with Kate Molleson here.


  • Kris Worsley says:

    No, she’s not ‘gone’ – she’s spending her time teaching, passing on her experience and skills to another generation (and probably using her straight-talking gift for communication to do so), in the time that she would have been performing.

    Such a shame that you should consider her career in teaching (with the great difference that she is bound to make) so second rate a career that you should write as if she ceases to exist.