A wonderful English opera singer has died

We have been informed of the death of Marion Studholme, a pillar of the old Sadlers Wells in the days when opera was of the people, for the people and by the people. Marion was 85.

Among her many roles were Gilda in Rigoletto, Blonde in Il Seraglio, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel and Adele in Wendy Toye’s production of Die Fledermaus. She was Yum Yum in Sadler’s Wells production of the Mikado, after the D’Oyly Carte copyright expired at the end of 1961.

With her husband, Andrew Downie, she appeared in Tyrone Guthrie’s productions of HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance at the Stratford, Ontario Festival and later in the West End at Her Majesty’s Theatre. She was the headline artist in the Viennese Evenings that launched Raymond Gubbay’s entrepreneurial career, 50 years ago.

Andrew died in 2009 after a fall on the escalator at Highbury and Islington Tube station. Marion is survived by their two sons.

marion studholme

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  • Marion was a lovely lady and this is sad news. Whilst on the RCM vocal staff she also taught Sarah Brightman.

  • Saw her and her husband in Pirates at that Stratford production.. They were so English! Says this Canadian girl reared on church and high school versions of G&S. Although I was young,realized that so much of the essence of the genre was a style..not often captured by the modern reinventions and word substitutions of the colonials.. One has to understand style well, in order to parody well, especially musically. I have not found this in North American productions.

  • Marion and Andrew, having heard me sing in a Stratford production on the main stage the year they performed in Tyrone Guthrie’s “HMS Pinafore”, encouraged me to go to London to study with their teacher, Rodolfo Mele. I followed their advice and went on to an operatic career in Germany and Canada. They were a wonderful, supportive couple and so talented. It is very sad to think that they are both no longer with us. My sincere condolences to the family.

  • Oh I’m so sad. Marion was a wonderful singer and superb teacher as many colleagues will know. I was most fortunate to work with her in the 80s and now as a teacher of the 18-24 age group I remember and indeed pass on many of her wise and frequently humorous words. Many condolences to her two sons. Marion and I exchanged cards and news every Christmas but last time I heard from her she said she was’ getting very creaky’. Ah dear Marion how we’ll miss you.

  • I am very sorry to hear of Marion Studholme’s death. I had the pleasure of meeting her and Thomas Round when they came to Johannesburg to appear in “Lilac Time” in 1964. She was a lovely singer and a charming person.

  • Marion Studholme was my teacher at the RCM. She was a superb musician and it was a true privilege to study with her.

  • She was the most profoundly influential person for me at a very impressionable stage in my career. She taught me for eight years and my lessons with her were a total joy…… She took me from an unconfident schoolgirl mezzo to a happy and more confident adult soprano, introducing me to great repertoire and a host of glorious teaching images along the way. She always called me SueMac, as she had several other Sues; she encouraged, cajoled, helped and generously, when I couldn’t afford them in the early days, gave me Mars Bar lessons, which I cherished. I remember going to her to say I had been asked to sing my first Four Last Songs and she laughed and said that singing them was like farting in a thunderstorm as the orchestra texture was often so thick….. But she used it to help me learn about projection without pushing, and they became a staple part of my career repertoire and I sang them more than twenty times.
    Her twinkly eyes, her huge heart, her joy in teaching will all be greatly missed, but she has left a legacy of passionate, enthusiastic, encouraging and committed teaching….. And wonderful scribbles all over my music.
    Marion Studholme, you were my first great teacher, my first true musical influence and your energy will live on in my own teaching.
    Thank you.

  • Marion was my teacher at the RCM and was an extraordinary mentor and friend who was was one of the most inspiring people I have had the honour to know. I cannot express how sad it is to lose her from this creative planet. She has been a devoted mentor to so many, and like my peers, I can never repay the support she gave me, except to pass her generous teaching on to my own students. Thank you Marion, your beautiful voice is here with us still.

  • Marion was my very first singing teacher and came into my life when I was a student in Winchester at the age of 19. I continued my studies with her at the RCM and for another two years after finishing there. All in all, eight years of my life were immersed in the wealth of love and musicianship that Marion had to offer. My life at the Royal wasn’t easy but Marion was always there to give me her support. Much time together was spent in tears and her unfailing belief in my ability as a singer never waned. She always had more faith in me than I had in myself. Marion really was one in a million. She was a beautiful, selfless woman with a heart of gold and a voice to match. Dearest Marion you will be missed by so very many. May God keep you and hold you in his arms forever.

  • Marion became my singing teacher at the RCM after graduating from the RNCM. She was a true inspiration and helped me to believe in myself as a singer. She encouraged me to explore other areas of music including G & S and Musical Theatre as well as the classics. Due to this I had many years successfully working in Musical Theatre and producing voiceovers for television as well as working as an actor. I have no doubt this would not have happened without her.
    Now I am passing on everything Marion taught me to the next generation of performers. Marion and I stayed in contact over the many years and she never failed to call me at Christmas. I am so grateful that I spoke to Marion on the 2nd January and I will never forget that beautiful voice.
    You will always live in my heart Marion and I will always remember the banana pencil case, as I am sure many of my peers will know what I mean.
    Thank you so much Marion.

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