|MAJOR NEW WEBSITE EXPLORES ENGLISH SINGING IN THE MID-20TH CENTURY|
“A marvel: a magnificent tribute to a wonderful singer’ – Dame Sarah Connolly
“Full of information which I am sure will appeal to many people…Everything is there” – Dame Janet Baker
“Wonderful, so comprehensive!” – James Bowman
Eight years ago the music critic/broadcaster Michael White created a website for the soprano Jennifer Vyvyan [pictured] – a singer famous through the 1950s-70s for her involvement with the new, emerging operas of Benjamin Britten and the rediscovered old ones of Handel. Now, that website has been re-imagined, rewritten, and enlarged to place her in the broader context of what was happening in British vocal music during those years.
Called Jennifer Vyvyan: an English Singer and Her Times and accessible at www.jennifervyvyan.org, it still details her unusual life – descended from an aristocratic family and achieving serious success on the opera/concert stage before a tragically early death at 49.
But the site now explores in greater depth the worlds of Benjamin Britten, Malcolm Williamson, Arthur Bliss and other contemporary composers she worked with (taking lead roles in the premieres of Gloriana, Turn of the Screw, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Owen Wingrave, Violins of St Jacques, The Beatitudes…). It investigates the pioneering work of the Handel Opera Society. It looks at other British singers, opera companies and music institutions active in the mid-20th Century. And it reflects on the life of a performer in those times: the schedules, travel, earnings, expectations.
The result is something almost certainly unique in scope and substance – addressed to general audiences but with plenty of material for focused study.
Designed by Richard Chapman Studio, the site is managed by the Jennifer Vyvyan Foundation which was set up by Vyvyan’s son Jonathan Crown to promote awareness of British concert/opera singing and support new talent.