Heather Harper is going home

Heather Harper is going home


norman lebrecht

April 22, 2019

The funeral of Heather Harper, who died last night, will be held in London in a fortnight. Her ashes will then be taken to her home country, northern Ireland, where they will be scattered in Cushendun, where she was evacuated from Belfast during the War.

Her student Una Barry took the photo below in her London flat in Bow, on Christmas Day 2003. The bear was a gift from Bengali Muslim neighbours next door.

photo: Una Barry


  • M McAlpine says:

    Lovely singer. RIP

  • Melisande says:

    Such a lovely and powerful singer.
    May she rest in peace.

  • Straussian says:

    Oh no!!! This makes me very sad. I remember so well her Marschallin at the Canadian Opera Company, around 1980. Hers was quite a tragic Marie Therese, so touching and poignant. I will never forget it.

  • barry guerrero says:

    One of my favorite Mahler singers from the ’60s and early ’70s.

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    So sorry to hear this news. Heather Harper was a very special singer whom I particularly remember in Britten’s operas (notably Ellen Orford in ‘Grimes’ and Mrs Coyle in ‘Owen Wingrave’) and, of course, the War Requiem (see her magnificent performance at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwBEtfXXsvU&t=1378s). That wonderful creamy soprano tone – and such warmth and humanity. Thanks for the picture, Una.

    • Una says:

      Thanks Garry. I never thought in a million years that I’d have someone in my very humble flat like Heather, but that is who she was, and I learnt so much from her as a singing teacher – particularly she taught me my trade, and just didn’t concentrate on the voice. She gave me invaluable information, as well as how to deal with the profession in general, and the adverse criticism that she called the ‘armchair experts!’.

  • André says:

    She was such a great singer. We mourn her and our loss.

  • Peter says:

    Truly a great singer – whether in Händel (1966/Davis), Britten (War requiem, superb Illuminations) or Tippett (3rd symphony) and Richard Strauss.

  • Alex Davies says:

    I’m curious about the spelling “northern Ireland”. Irish nationalists wishing to avoid showing recognition of Northern Ireland’s membership of the United Kingdom usually say “the north of Ireland”, not “northern Ireland”.

  • Rob says:

    She was stunning in that stunning Solti Mahler 8. The best cast a Mahler 8 recording has ever had.

  • Perhaps my favorite soprano of the 20th century. RIP