Lauris Elms 80th birthday concert

It is surely a sign of the high esteem in which an artist is held, to have your peers gather to celebrate your achievements.

 Such is the respect and deep affection held for contralto Lauris Elms, AM, OBE, as she celebrates her 80th birthday this year. On Sunday, the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Opera Foundation presents a concert of opera highlights, with the proceeds going towards the foundation’s inaugural 2011 Bel Canto Award. 

Lauris Elms retired from performing in 1994. A whole new generation of singers may not yet be aware of her stature. She debuted at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden in 1957 as Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, and was principal contralto at Covent Garden from 1957 to 1959. She sang the role of Mrs Sedley in Benjamin Britten‘s Peter Grimes, conducted by Britten himself. She was invited to perform in five Royal Command performances – surely a unique achievement. In Australia Lauris Elms gave Lieder recitals with Musica Viva and the ABC also performing sacred and operatic works. 

 Her principal roles were: Amneris (Aida), Azucena (Il Trovatore), Ulrica (Un ballo in maschera),Carmen, Principessa (Suor Angelica), Lucrezia (Lucrezia Borgia), Judith, Sesto (Julius Caesar), Orfeoand Mrs Sedley (Peter Grimes). 

Elms was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1974, awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 1977, and appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1982. In 1988, the University of Sydney awarded her an honorary Doctorate of Music. Her recordings are many. 

This is time to sit back, relax and enjoy all that is familiar and loved about opera – there are excerpts from The Pearl Fishers, Lakme, Tosca, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Macbeth sprinkled with the humour of Noel Coward. 

Amelia Farrugia, Bernadette Cullen, Fiona Janes, Anna Yun, Glenn Winslade, John Longmuir and Michael Lewis, with Deborah De Graaff, clarinet, and Glen Amer piano gather on stage to deliver this salute to this doyenne of opera. 

Have a flutter on the silent auction or the raffle – a priceless plaster mask hand painted and signed by Dame Joan Sutherland could be yours. 

Tickets:  9817 4919  $45/$40/$20, includes refreshments.

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