DAME FELICITY LOTT
The English soprano Dame Felicity Lott, universally known as “Flott”, was born in Cheltenham. Music was an important part of her life from her early years.
Felicity Lott started learning the piano aged five, learned to play the violin and had her first singing lesson at the age of twelve. Yet she decided against a professional singing career at first. At Royal Holloway College, London University, she read French and Latin to become an interpreter.
During a stay in France Felicity Lott continued to take singing lessons at the Conservatoire of Grenoble. Finally in 1969, the love of music gained the victory – she returned to London to take up her singing studies at the Royal Academy of Music and left in 1973, after obtaining her LRAM and winning the Principal’s Prize.
In 1975 Dame Felicity made her debut at the English National Opera as Pamina in Mozart’s Magic Flute, in 1976 she took part in the first performance of Henze’s opera We Come To The River at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. In that year also began her long relationship with Glyndebourne: after rejecting her for the Chorus three times, they offered her the role of the Countess in Capriccio on the Tour, and in 1977 she appeared at the Festival for the first time, as Anne Trulove in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.
Since then, Felicity Lott has appeared at all the great opera houses of the world: Vienna, Milan, Paris, Brussels, Munich, Hamburg, Dresden, Berlin, New York and Chicago to name but a few. Her many roles include the Marschallin (Rosenkavalier / Strauss), Countess Madeleine (Capriccio / Strauss), Arabella (Strauss), Christine (Intermezzo / Strauss), Countess Almaviva (Le Nozze Di Figaro / Mozart), Fiordiligi (Cosi Fan Tutte / Mozart), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni / Mozart), Ellen Orford (Peter Grimes / Britten), The Governess (The Turn Of The Screw / Britten), LadyBillows (Albert Herring / Britten), Louise (Charpentier), Blanche (Les Dialogues des Carmelites / Poulenc) and Elle (La Voix Humaine / Poulenc).
Recently, Dame Felicity has shown more and more affection for operetta. In 1993 she sang the title role in Lehar’s Merry Widow with Glyndebourne Festival Opera on a recording for EMI, but she had sung the role on stage in Nancy and Paris in the 1980’s. In 1999 she appeared as Rosalinde in Johann Strauss’ Fledermaus in Chicago and her performance as Hélène in Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène at the Chatelet in Paris was a great success. In the 2004-2005 season Dame Felicity appeared very successfully in Paris as Offenbach’s La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein.
As a concert artist, too, Felicity Lott has built up a great international reputation. She has worked with nearly all major orchestras and festivals under such conductors as Carlos Kleiber, Georg Solti, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Andre Previn, Neeme Järvi, Klaus Tennstedt, Andrew Davis, Kurt Masur, Franz Welser-Möst and many more. Her repertoire includes works by Handel, Bach, Haydn, Mahler, Brahms, Elgar and Walton.
Dame Felicity’s special love belongs to the song repertoire. She enchants with songs of Strauss, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms as well as with the masters of French Mélodies. As might be expected, she is also very fond of English songs, particularly those of Benjamin Britten. Her affection for songs is reflected in her founder membership of the Songmakers’ Almanac. This group of singers was founded in 1976 by the pianist Graham Johnson, Felicity Lott’s accompanist since student days. Their intention was, among other things, to discover and perform less well-known songs and ensembles. A huge number of recitals and great recordings reveal the success. The duet recitals with the Irish mezzo-soprano Ann Murray are legendary.
Felicity Lott has received honorary doctorates at the Universities of Sussex, Loughborough, London, Leicester, Oxford and at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Glasgow. By the French Government she was awarded the titles Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1990 and Chevalier dans la Legion d’Honneur in 2001. In 1990 Felicity Lott was also made a CBE. In 1996 she was created a Dame Commander of the British Empire. In 2003 Dame Felicity was awarded the title of Bayerische Kammersängerin.