An English mezzo-soprano
, born 1933, Dame Janet Baker is appreciated for her cool, pure renderings especially of baroque
operas and oratorio
s; but she is also associated with Lieder
and with Benjamin Britten
. In her early years she was sometimes held out as the successor of the much lamented Kathleen Ferrier
She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Salzburg Mozarteum. Her first operatic role was in 1956, as Roza in Smetana's The Secret. Her Covent Garden debut was in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1966. Roles created for her include Kate Julian in Britten's Owen Wingrave, and his dramatic cantata Phaedra (1976), which he also dedicated to her. She gave the first performance of Dominick Argento's song cycle From the Diary of Virginia Woolf in 1975.
Created a DBE in 1976, she retired from the stage in 1982. Her autobiography published then is entitled Full Circle.
I'm noding this to the accompaniment of her stirring 1965 performance of Elgar's Sea Pictures, with Sir John Barbirolli, probably the classic recording of it.