Louise Kirkby Lunn (1872-1930), the leading British contralto of her time, both on the opera stage and on the concert platform, enjoyed a forty-year career. She was a leading contralto at Covent Garden from 1902 until 1922 and made many visits to America, singing the role of Kundry in the Henry Savage Parsifal tour (1904-5) and performing regularly at the New York ‘Met’ and Carnegie Hall. On the opera stage among her colleagues can be counted many of the international stars of the time, including Caruso, Destinn, Martinelli, Melba, Plançon, Renaud, Scotti, Ternina and Van Rooy. In the opera house she sang under Mahler, Nikisch and Richter. She was first to sing the role of Dalila in a staged performance in the UK of Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, one of her greatest triumphs. As a concert singer, she was greatly admired by Sir Henry Wood and Sir Edward Elgar and took part in the first performances of works by Coleridge-Taylor, Stanford and others. As a recitalist, she performed a wide range of music and supported many of the composers of her time. Her tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1912-13 was perhaps the most successful ever yet made by an English singer. This book celebrates a remarkable career of an outstanding singer whose achievements have perhaps been overlooked.
The book follows the course of Kirkby Lunn’s career featuring contemporary reviews and many illustrations. The book also includes a chronology, an appreciation by Tully Potter, a new discography by David Mason and a CD featuring opera recordings by Kirkby Lunn, transferred by Norman White.
Track 5 – Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila – Printemps qui commence (rec. 1911)