Death of an international British soprano

Death of an international British soprano


norman lebrecht

May 11, 2021

We have been notified of the death yesterday of Pauline Tinsley, a stalwart of British opera companies who enjoyed a lively career in Italy, Germany and the US. Pauline was 93.

Wigan born, she studied in Manchester with Dame Eva Turner and Joan Cross.

They don’t make teachers like that any more.


  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Saw/heard her sing many times with WNO. Lovely.

  • AndrewB says:

    Sad to hear of the passing of this fine singing actress whose powerful performance left an indelible impression on all who heard her.

  • Eulalia Johnson says:

    She was a crackerjack Lady M in Philadelphia many, many moons ago and unforgettable in “Hansel and Gretel” at the ENO in the very early 90s. A remarkable talent joins the roster of greats on the other side of the veil!

  • Anthony Michaels-Moore says:

    She could be an electrifying performer. I was lucky enough to see her in Newcastle Upon Tyne as Lady M, back in 1977 with Scottish National Opera, when they were able to do large scale works on tour; Norman Bailey and David Ward, plus Sir A Gibson in the pit. Pass me the pipe and slippers while I reminisce…….

    • David Alden says:

      I will never forget her Kostelnicka in Jenufa, which I saw in Houston in the ’70s. Absolutely hair-raising dramatic singing! and her Elektra at WNO in the Kupfer production, and her Lady M…the list goes on and on. Someone like her appears once in a lifetime, if you are lucky.

    • Nick2 says:

      I also saw her wonderful Lady M in that same production but I think by the time it reached Glasgow. She was magnificent – better I thought than Vishnevskaya who had sung in the production when it was unveiled at the Edinburgh Festival the previous year. Vishnevskaya did not take the high D flat at the end of the Sleepwalking Scene. For Ms. Tinsley, it was absolutely no problem. A great artist.

  • Siegfried says:

    No performance with Pauline Tinsley was anything other than exciting and dramatic. She lived Abigaille opposite Raimund Herincx with WNO in Nabucco. At ENO there was her unforgettable Elizabeth challenging Janet Baker as Mary Stuart. The finest performance for me, though, was her Elektra for WNO, along with Anne Evans, in the incredible production by Harry Kupfer. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to see her perform.

  • Ms.Melody says:

    A superb singer and artist who truly belongs in the Pantheon with the greats. One wonders why there are so few commercial recording, plenty of pirates, fortunately. Why someone like her was not made a DBE has always been a mystery to me. Rest in peace and rise in glory, great Diva. Condolences to her family and friends.

  • Alastair Miles says:

    Pauline and her husband George were also generous and enthusiastic patrons and supporters of Harrow Opera in north-west London (founded by Oliver Broome in 1971 and celebrating its 50th anniversary this year!), which is where I met her in the early eighties when I was starting out.

  • David Winsby says:

    I heard her sing Lady Billows in 3 performances of Albert Herring in 1978 at Opera Theatre of St Louis in, including the performance that was taped for the BBC/WNET joint TV production. She was wonderful. I met her briefly at the post-performance party on the lawn after the first production I attended. A very gracious, fun, and interesting lady.

  • Kenneth Shaw says:

    At the very beginning of my career I had the privilege of singing in a production of Elektra with this great artist in the title role. What a marvel to watch the unassuming lady knitting in the corner of the rehearsal hall transform into the majestic powerhouse she became the moment Strauss’ music was played. I have been in awe of her since. RIP Glorious Pauline

  • John Freere Perry says:

    Pauline was a wonderful, kind person with a huge, amazing voice. Her Turandot was second to none. She had some lessons with my teacher Eduardo Asquez. Blessed to have known her. May she rest in peace!

  • Anonymous Bosch says:

    I remember that immediately after her 1972 New York City Opera debut, people ran to the box office for the next “Maria Stuarda,” not for Sills’ Maria but for Tinsley’s Elisabetta. Talk about onstage electricity! Bubbles was not very happy when she heard another voice taking the high note at the end of Act Two, only louder and longer.

  • Steven mathers says:

    She was simply magnificent and sadly underrated by certain opera houses.
    I first saw her as Kostelnicka and was knocked off my seat! An incredible Abigaille followed. I last saw her as Lady Billows at Covent Garden. How I wish I’d been able to get to her Turandot and Elektra!