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Tributes to popular opera singer Lyndsie

Dudley | News | Published:

She was born and bred in the Black Country and rose from humble beginnings to win global acclaim for performances in works by Gilbert and Sullivan.

Tributes were today paid to opera singer Lyndsie Holland from Stourbridge who has died at the age of 79.

After leaving school she began work as a telephonist. But after starting to perform with a well-known Midlands choir her career took a different path.

She performed for one of the leading theatre companies – the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company known for its productions of Gilbert and Sullivan works.

Miss Holland died on April 2 after suffering a heart attack.

Her friend of more than 40 years David Harrison-Steadman, who was principal conductor of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, yesterday paid tribute to a performer who 'enjoyed popularity wherever she went'.

Miss Holland, from Pedmore, was the youngest child in a family of eight.

Her introduction to singing came in harmonising with her brothers and hearing opera recordings at their home.

She was born Margaret Foster but took her stage name from the maiden names of her two grandmothers.

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Miss Holland attended Stourbridge High School and after leaving worked at the British Road Services in Kingswinford and as a telephonist in Birmingham.

After taking some preliminary singing lessons, she sang as soloist with Kingswinford-based male voice choir, the Gentleman Songsters, and was later persuaded to join the Midland Music Makers. To her astonishment and delight she was given a leading role in a production of Borodin's Prince Igor.

At one of the performances she was spotted by a talent scout from Sadler's Wells Opera and after further study with Linda Vaughan at the Birmingham School of Music made her debut for the company in 1968.

Two years later she auditioned for Dame Bridget D'Oyly Carte at the Savoy and was immediately offered a job.

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Her first performance was as Lady Sangazure in The Sorcerer. She appeared in the other Gilbert and Sullivan operas as quickly as she could learn the roles including Dame Hannah in Ruddigore, Dame Carruthers in The Yeomen of the Guard and Katisha in The Mikado.

One Broadway critic hailed her as the best Katisha since the 1930s and Sir Edward Heath admired her singing of Dame Carruthers.

She sang Little Buttercup in the company's ATV film of HMS Pinafore and also at the Royal Command Performance at Windsor Castle. During the centenary celebrations at the Savoy, BBC Radio 2 transmitted The Mikado with Miss Holland as Katisha. She was Principal Contralto for the company for nearly seven years. Following her retirement from the stage she spent the final years of her life in a nursing home in London.

Mr Harrison-Steadman said: "Success never went to Lyndsie's head and she enjoyed popularity wherever she went."

Miss Holland's funeral will be held in Stourbridge at a date still to be confirmed.

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