Verdi : AidaNew York, Met, 1976 (Audio)
Director: Kazimierz Kord
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Rita Hunter CBE (15 August 1933 – 29 April 2001) was a British operatic dramatic soprano. She was born in Wallasey, Merseyside and lived in Limekiln Lane.
Hunter studied singing in Liverpool with Edwin Francis and later in London with Redvers Llewellyn and Clive Carey. She joined the Sadler's Wells Opera Company in 1957, and sang in the chorus with them for two years before touring with the Carl Rosa Opera Company. She then obtained a grant from the Countess of Munster Trust, which made it possible for her to study for a year with Dame Eva Turner.
After this she went back to the Company as a principal, where her roles included Senta in The Flying Dutchman, Musetta in La bohème, Odabella in Attila, Fata Morgana in The Love of Three Oranges, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Amelia in A Masked Ball, Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana, Elizabeth in Don Carlos and Leonora in Il trovatore. She also sang all three Brünnhildes in the operas of The Ring of the Nibelung.
Rita Hunter will be remembered as one of the major Wagnerian sopranos of the later 20th century, especially for her performances as Brünnhilde in the Ring cycle conducted by Reginald Goodall at the English National Opera. In this production she was partnered by Alberto Remedios (who had studied singing at the same time as Hunter in Liverpool with Edwin Francis) as Siegfried, and Norman Bailey as Wotan. The recordings based on this production, with the same artists, are regarded as amongst the finest available, even though they are sung, in accordance with ENO traditions, in English.
In the Glen Byam Shaw Ring production, the quality of Hunter's singing and interpretation enabled audiences to set aside her outsize stature (which conformed to all prejudices about Wagnerian sopranos), and few have matched her conviction as Brünnhilde. She made her debut at the New York Metropolitan Opera on December 19, 1972, in Die Walküre with great success (conductor Erich Leinsdorf and Dame Gwyneth Jones as Sieglinde). She performed the Götterdämmerung Brünnhilde at Covent Garden, and also sang the part of Senta there at short notice. Hunter's later performances of Die Walküre in 1975 featured Birgit Nilsson as Sieglinde and were conducted by Sixten Ehrling.
She also performed in Wagner and other operas in Munich, Seattle, New Orleans, San Francisco, and with the Welsh National Opera. In a memorable San Francisco season, she played the roles of Norma and Sieglinde in the same week.
In 1980 she was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
In 1981 she moved to Sydney and joined the Australian Opera.