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Elizabeth Harwood

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Biography

Elizabeth Harwood (27 May 1938 – 21 June 1990) was an English lyric soprano. After a music school, she enjoyed an operatic career lasting for over two decades and worked with such conductors as Colin Davis and Herbert von Karajan. She was one of the few English singers of her generation to be invited to sing in productions at the Salzburg Festival and La Scala, Milan, as well as at the Metropolitan Opera.

After early performances at Glyndebourne and five years at Sadler’s Wells Opera Company in the 1960s, Harwood sang at Covent Garden and Scottish Opera before building an international reputation in the 1970s. Her repertoire was extensive, but she was particularly notable for her performances in the operas of Mozart and Richard Strauss. In the concert hall, she performed in oratorio, and in her later years she concentrated on Lieder recitals.
She died of cancer at the age of 52.
Early years
Harwood was born in Barton Seagrave, a suburb of Kettering, but grew up in Yorkshire. She attended Skipton Girls’ High School. Her parents were both musical, and her mother, a professional soprano, taught her singing. Harwood later said of her childhood, “My mother sang under the name Constance Read, and she did quite a bit of early broadcasting from Birmingham. When she had her children – there were three of us – she did local singing and took up her teaching. My father, in the Methodist Chapel tradition, did a good deal of conducting”.

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