Born: October 4, 1931; Died: February 24, 2014
Anna Reynolds, who has died aged 83, was one of the founding members of the impressive Wagner ensemble recruited by Scottish Opera in the 1960s for performances of its expanding Ring cycle conducted by Sir Alexander Gibson in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
She was a mezzo-soprano of great assurance, ideal for the role of Waltraute in Gotterdammerung, where she tries to make her fellow-valkyrie give up the magic ring and return it to Wotan. She was also a distinguished Fricka, the Queen of the Gods, in Das Rheingold (1966) and sang the same role in the company's staging of Die Walkure at the 1971 Edinburgh Festival.
Again in Scotland, but outside Wagner, she sang Mrs Herring - Albert Herring's scolding mother - in the first of the company's many ventures into the world of Benjamin Britten. A vivid star of this much-travelled production, which toured most of Europe and was on one occasion flown to Iceland, she reached the peak of her long series of performances when Scottish Opera was invited to take it to the Maggio Musicale in Florence in 1968. Voiced in the historic surroundings of the Teatro Pergola, her proud claim that her browbeaten son was "sleeping the sleep of the just" (when in fact he had secretly gone out on his first pub crawl) lingers in the memory.
By the 1970s her reputation had grown and she was invited to Bayreuth, where for several years she sang Fricka in both Das Rheingold and Die Walkure and settled permanently in Germany where she married the American tenor Jean Cox. But her international career, established with performances at Glyndebourne and Covent Garden as well as in Scotland, continued.
The story goes that at the New York Metropolitan, where she sang Waltraute alongside Birgit Nilsson's Brunnhilde, Nilsson accidentally dropped the magic ring, which rolled into the orchestra pit. Undismayed, Nilsson gave a mighty shrug of her shoulders and continued the performance. Nothing like that happened when she sang Fricka with Herbert von Karajan as conductor at the Salzburg Festival.
Born in Canterbury, Anna Reynolds studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London before becoming a pupil of Debora Fambri in Italy and making her operatic debut as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly in Parma in 1960.
Her first Covent Garden portrayal was Adelaide in Richard Strauss's Arabella in 1967, but her career was not exclusively operatic. In the concert hall she sang the Angel in Elgar's Dream of Gerontius conducted by one of the work's greatest exponents, Sir John Barbirolli.
She sang Mahler's Song of the Earth for Leonard Bernstein, Bach cantatas for Karl Richter, and took part in the London premiere of John Tavener's maverick cantata, The Whale, conducted by David Atherton. Later in life she was an admired teacher in Germany. Though teaching supplanted her career as a singer, there was one composer she continued to prize above all others. No, it was not Wagner. It was Bach.
She was pre-deceased by her husband.
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