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February 21, 2012

Opera world loses another valued singer, soprano Elizabeth Connell

Elizabeth Connell, who started her nearly four-decade career as a mezzo and made a triumphant transition to soprano, died in London from cancer at the age of 65.

If the South African-born singer did not enjoy widespread name recognition, her reputation in the industry was secure and stellar. Miss Connell had the power for Wagner and Strauss, the dramatic truth for Verdi, the elegance for Mozart.

Her final performance was a recital Nov. 27 in Hastings, capping the evening with an encore that now seems all the more touching -- a song by Ernest Charles that was a favorite of divas past, "When I Have Sung My Songs."

Here is that encore from Miss Connell's last concert, complete with an endearing bit of trouble at the end that required starting the song over:

Posted by Tim Smith at 12:02 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes, Opera


Mr. Smith, thanks so much for sharing this. It was very moving to me, and brought to mind something that was discussed at my Puccini class last week at Peabody. Someone asked "What is the secret to expressive singing?". I thought about it and offered, "Expressive singing is when the artist sings as if it would be the last time that he or she would ever sing, as if, after the song was finished, they would no longer be able to offer what they loved so much." I think that resonated with the singers quite a bit, and one wonders if Miss Connell knew that as she sang this beautiful valediction (also a favorite encore piece of our own Rosa Ponselle). May she rest in peace.

You sure described 'expressive singing' compellingly, Mr. Harp. I may quote you frequently in the future \ (and will really, really try to remember to give you credit). TIM

she was a good singer with beautiful vocal

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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