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Morag Beaton

Morag Beaton

(2 July 1926 – 1 April 2010)

 

Morag Beaton was a Scottish born Australian dramatic soprano.

She was taught by her mother in Edinburgh where she was born.

Morag Beaton was to later achieve instant recognition in Australia in 1965 singing Turandot more capably than many others have, before or since.

Indeed, so identified with this role was she, she went on to sing it more times than any other soprano in Australia's history.

A recording of her in this role recorded live is still in existance as is her performance of Cathy in a complete recording of Bernard Herrman's opera version of Wuthering Heights.

Another claim to fame for Morag Beaton has to be her amazing versatility singing alternating performances of the title role in Turandot and then singing Maddelena (a mezzo/contralto role) in Rigoletto the next night throughout a season - and being acclaimed in both!

Amazingly, in other seasons she mixed Turandot with the contralto Ulrica role in Verdi's A Masked Ball and even the enormously challenging role of Abigaille in Nabucco.

Morag Beaton moved from her native Scotland to London in the 1950s where she gave the ocassional concert.

In 1962 she was hired by the Deutsche Oper in Berlin and played a number of roles with them including Cherubino in "The Marriage of Figaro" and Rosina in "The Barber of Seville".

In 1967 she was engaged by Australian conductor Richard Bonynge to perform with the Australian Opera where she quickly achieved wide acclaim singing Turandot the role she was to become so closely identified with.

Among other roles in her repertoire she sang Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, Venus in Tannhäuser, Abigaille in Nabucco, Eboli in Don Carlos and Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana.

Her operatic career was relatively short though lasting only from 1965 until 1973 when she returned to Britain for an operation to correct a complaint that had been troubling her.

On her return to Australia she never appeared again in any full production but she did give a recital in 1983 in the Sydney Opera House when she retired.

At a gala to mark the Australian Opera's fiftieth birthday in 2006 as a guest of honour, she was given a rousing reception- a clear mark that she was far from forgotten despite the fact her career was based in a time when opera was still barely on the fringe of mainstream entertainment in Australia.

In 2006 at a special gala to mark her 80th birthday she sang two Scottish songs accompanied by the renowned pianist Geoffrey Tozer. Celebrated Australian opera star Lauris Elms remarked "Still rich and glorious!" when she heard her.

Morag Beaton died on 1 April 2010 in Sydney , aged 83

Personal note: at a stadium production of Turandot in Sydney, in the late 1990's as a cast member in rehersal she was pointed out to me (talking to a group of chorus members) as a "once great Turandot". It was some years later that I realised the diminutive old lady I had seen was none other than "the" renowned "Morag Beaton" I had heard so much about.

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