Death of a Covent Garden star

Death of a Covent Garden star


norman lebrecht

November 07, 2021

We have been notified by mutual friends of the death of Joan Carlyle, one of the early home-grown singers of the Royal Opera House.

Joan, who had retired to Wales, was 90.

Nurtured by Rafael Kubelik and Rudolf Kempe, she sang opposite Maria Callas in Cherubini’s Medea, opposite Jon Vickers in Verdi’s Otello and in the title role of Richard Strauss’s Arabella, among many other versatile performance. She sang Jenifer in the first recording of Tippett’s opera, The Midsummer Marriage.

Her enthusiasm for the art was irrepressible and her friendships lifelong.


  • M McAlpine says:

    She also took the lead in Karajan’s celebrated Pagliacci

    • Wakhévitch says:

      Amazing that NL overlooked that as you say celebrated 1965 recording in Milan! She was Karajan’s Nedda, opposite Bergonzi. But Karajan’s movie, made two years later, saw both replaced, with young Kabaivanska and Vickers jumping in. Better actors?

    • operacentric says:

      Think the tenor (Bergonzi in this recording) generally might think they are the lead!

  • AndrewB says:

    A beautiful voice , fine technique , musicality and commitment. Covent Garden was fortunate to secure the services of Joan Carlyle and I hope that the house will mark her passing in some way?

  • Maria says:

    Joan Carlyle and also Josephine Veasey – the latter now 91 who was my main singing teacher for years – were both the backbone of the Garden during my young music student days and beyond. Yes, our home grown singers then wwrevwonderful and achieved so much on so little. The Tippett recprding of Joan Carlyle is amazing and great to have it – as was Heather Harper in that intricate and difficult score too.

  • Gary Freer says:

    The Tippett recording is indeed wonderful – Jenifer is a very difficult role and in the premiere and original recording even Joan Sutherland struggled with it.

    • SUGGERITORE says:

      The Tippett recording with her and Alberto Remedios and a splendid Raimund Herincx is indeed splendid. An extraordinary piece of British 20th century lyricism.

      • Joel Kemelhor says:

        I agree. After hearing it on the radio, I bought the Colin Davis set, and later the piano-vocal score for THE MIDSUMMER MARRIAGE.