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Helen Watts

helen watts, helen watts chapman
Helen Watts CBE 7 December 1927 – 7 October 2009 was a Welsh contralto


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 References
  • 5 Literature
  • 6 External links

Early life

Helen Josephine Watts was born in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, Wales Her father was a pharmacist She was educated at Taskers School for Girls in Haverfordwest, the Abbots Bromley School for Girls and at the Royal Academy of Music


She began her career with the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus, and was a regular broadcaster on the Welsh Home Service She subsequently had a distinguished career as an opera singer She sang Bach arias at her debut at The Proms, in 1955 She toured the Soviet Union with the English Opera Group in 1964, singing the lead in The Rape of Lucretia She was also known for her 1969 performances as Mistress Quickly in Verdi's Falstaff with the Welsh National Opera In 1969, her voice was described by a critic as "not particularly large, but the general purity and warmth of its tone gives it a direct, communicative power And the singer uses it with taste and imagination"

The many recordings by Helen Watts included a "monumental" edition of forty Bach cantatas, with Helmuth Rilling conducting the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart She also made multiple recordings as a soloist in Handel's Messiah, various roles in Wagner's Ring cycle, and an album of Welsh songs with the Treorchy male voice choir She was asked to choose her favorite recording, book, and luxury as a guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in 1970 They were: Favourite track: Betrachte Meine Seele, from the St John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach; Book: Illustrated book on gardening; Luxury: Velasquez, The Maids of Honour, Las Meninas in the Prado

In 1978 she was awarded the CBE

Personal life

Helen Watts married Michael Mitchell, a viola player with the London Symphony Orchestra, in 1980 Mitchell died in 2007 Watts died on 7 October 2009 at the age of 81


  1. ^ a b c "Helen Watts obituary in the" Daily Telegraph 1 November 2009 Retrieved 15 November 2009 
  2. ^ a b "Helen Watts: fine contralto who enjoyed a long and varied career" Times Online 22 October 2009 Retrieved 15 November 2009 
  3. ^ a b Patrick O'Connor, "Helen Watts Obituary" The Guardian 15 October 2009
  4. ^ Raymond C Ericson, "Welsh Contralto Bows as Soloist" New York Times 7 February 1969: 30
  5. ^ Helen Watts, Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4 14 September 1970
  6. ^ Profile, gramophonecouk; accessed 12 April 2014


  • D Brook, Singers of Today Revised Edition - Rockliff, London 1958, pp 198–200

External links

  • Helen Watts profile, bach-cantatascom; accessed 12 April 2014

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