Helen Watts (Contralto)
Born: 7th December 1927, Milford Haven, Wales
Died: 7th October 2009, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Helen Watts was born in Milford Haven in 1927 and studied at the Royal Academy of Music, spending her early career with the BBC Singers and in the Glyndebourne chorus; by the late 1960s she was acclaimed in roles including Britten’s Lucretia and Mrs Sedley, Verdi’s Mistress Quickly, Gluck’s Orfeo and Erda in The Ring Cycle.
As well as numerous landmark recordings of Bach cantatas with Helmuth Rilling, Watt’s discography includes Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and [Der Ring des Nibelungen (Schwertleite) under Sir Georg Solti, Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius (under Sir Adrian Boult, with Nicolai Gedda as Gerontius), Italian cantatas by Handel and Scarlatti with Raymond Leppard and the English Chamber Orchestra, and several significant early recordings of twentieth-century operas: Hippolyta in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (conducted by the composer), Maura in the world premiere recording of Vaughan Williams’s Riders to the Sea, and Madam Sosostris in Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage under Sir Colin Davis.
Watts was awarded a CBE in 1978; she died aged 81 in 2009.