Obituary: Mezzo-Soprano Josephine Veasey Dies at 91

By Francisco Salazar

On Feb. 22, Mezzo-soprano Josephine Veasey died at the age of 91.

Born in Peckham in South London, Veasey studied with Audrey Langford and became a member of the Royal Opera House chorus in 1949.

In 1955 she made her debut as a soloist at the British house in “Salome” and would eventually sing Cherubino in “Le nozze di Figaro,” Dorabella in “Così fan tutte,” Marina in “Boris Godunov,” Preziosilla in “La forza del destino,” Eboli in “Don Carlos,” Amneris in “Aida,” and the title role in “Carmen.”

In 1957, she became a regular guest at the Glyndebourne Festival and was very famous for her interpretations of Charlotte in “Werther” and Octavian in “Der Rosenkavalier.”

Her career eventually took off when she was noticed by Georg Solti and under the great conductor began singing Wagnerian roles such as Waltraute and Fricka in “Die Walküre.” She also recorded Fricka for Deutsche Grammophon under Herbert von Karajan and sang Brangäne in “Tristan und Isolde,” Venus in “Tannhäuser,” and Kundry in “Parsifal.”

She worked under Sir Colin Davis on Berlioz’s operas “Les Troyens,” and “La damnation de Faust.” Both operas were recorded with Davis.

Throughout her career, she performed at the Paris Opéra, the Festival Aix-en-Provence, the Teatro alla Scala, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Salzburg Festival, the Metropolitan Opera, and the San Francisco Opera, and Théâtre Antique d’Orange.

She was also involved in world premieres and created the role of Andromache in Michael Tippett’s “King Priam” in 1962, and created The Emperor in Hans Werner Henze’s “We Come to the River” in 1976.

The mezzo retired from the stage in 1982 in the role of Herodias at Covent Garden in “Salome.”

Other than the Berlioz and Wagner recording, Veasey also left recordings of “Beatrice di Tenda,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Verdi’s “Requiem,” “Norma,” and “La Forza del Destino.”