Amanda Holden has died

Amanda Holden has died


norman lebrecht

September 09, 2021

The prolific opera librettist and traslator Amanda Holden has died suddenly in her sleep, aged 73.

Amanda transformed the sound of opera in English when she translated Don Giovanni in slangy, witty, irreverent fashion for Jonathan Miller at ENO in 1985.

Her librettos include The Silver Tassie for Mark-Anthony Turnage and Bliss for Brett Dean.

She was editor of the Penguin Opera Guide.

Amanda leaves three sons and grandchildren.

Here is what she posted on another recent loss.

Graham Vick…. what totally sad news this is, Graham was such a specially intuitive musician, but also one of the few truly visionary geniuses of opera.
I’m writing this because without Graham I’d not be me. His support when I was translating Falstaff for his Birmingham company in 1987 was key, and he encouraged, inspired and enabled me through several more Birmingham shows. He so loved that milieu of close work, and understood both deeply serious and ironically comic in every context – who but Graham would have subtitled Il dissoluto punito, or Don Giovanni, as `He had it coming’?!
Graham was director of productions at Scottish Opera in the 80s. The last Glasgow performance of David McVicar’s beautiful new Falstaff production took place yesterday, performed in that 1987 translation which ends with the Graham-inspired – `Life is a burst of laughter’, for Tutto nel mondo è burla. it’s very upsetting to try to accept that Graham has gone on his way.



  • Tony Britten says:

    A sudden and sad loss. She brought a musician’s sensibility to the tricky art of opera libretto translations as well as to her original work.

  • Simon Holt says:

    Sharp intake of breath! That’s a shock. Amanda was always a jolly and insightful member of the audience at many a concert. Sad news indeed. I shall miss her puckish asides and prickings of pomposity.

  • Antony Beaumont says:

    RIP Mandy. You were always a good friend, a great editor and a very talented writer. We:ll miss you.

  • Leslie Howard says:

    A lovely person, and a friend for almost 50 years. Very sad news!

  • Desmond and Ruth Cecil says:

    Very sad news. We were musical friends with Amanda for over half a century. She will be greatly missed.

  • Ian Jervis says:

    Very, very sad to hear this. She was a lovely lady, always encouraging. I enjoyed singing her translations which were witty and intelligent and enjoyed her company whenever we met. Rest well dear lady.

  • Janet Frank says:

    This is awful news. I deeply regret the loss of my dear friend (and recital partner of many years ago.)

  • Una says:

    That is such sad news and Amanda has been part of my operatic life for years although I never ever met her. Her death is an enormous loss for opera in English as well. Her translations were wonderful and so up to date that made singing Italian and German operas in English for the English-speaking audience viable. After all the audiences of Mozart, Wagner and Verdi heard opera in the vernacular. You knew an opera translated into her English would be relevant, and her Don Giovanni was just priceless! May she rest in peace.

  • Stephen Wadsworth says:

    Amanda, beloved, witty, deep friend and prodigious colleague and hostess, say it’s not so. I will miss our endless talks and helpless laughs. Hey, visit my dreams. Love to her boys and all those close to her.