Gwenlynn Little

Gwenlynn (Lois) Little. Soprano, b Grand Valley, near Orangeville, Ont, 14 Apr 1937; ARCT piano 1957, ARCT voice 1957. Her teachers at the RCMT were Margaret Miller Brown (piano) and George Lambert (voice).

Little, Gwenlynn

Gwenlynn (Lois) Little. Soprano, b Grand Valley, near Orangeville, Ont, 14 Apr 1937; ARCT piano 1957, ARCT voice 1957. Her teachers at the RCMT were Margaret Miller Brown (piano) and George Lambert (voice). After her debut (1962) as Mimi in a COC touring production of La Bohème, she sang Gilda in the COC main company's production of Rigoletto (1962), and served 1963-5 as leading soubrette with Boris Goldovsky's New England Opera Company. She sang 1965-8 in the Stratford Festival's Mozart productions and appeared with the Opera Guild of Montreal and the Vancouver and Edmonton operas. Further COC roles included Sara Riel in Louis Riel (1968), Adele in Die Fledermaus (1969, 1975), Zerlina in Don Giovanni (1970), and Concepción in L'Heure espagnole (1974).

Little sang frequently in Festival Canada (Festival Ottawa) productions (Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro in 1971 and 1972, Zerlina in Don Giovanni in 1973 and 1974, and Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos in 1977) and with the Pittsburgh Opera and the New York City Opera. With the New York company she has sung a variety of roles, including Echo, the Mozart roles, the title role in Manon, Norina in L'Elisir d'Amore, and Nanetta in Falstaff. In 1979 her assignments included Susanna to Victoria de los Angeles' Countess and Micaëla to her Carmen.

Following two years of concert and recital work throughout the USA, Little returned to Toronto in 1982 and established a teaching studio. Her pupils have included Claude Naubert, Donna Bennett, and Susan Blythe-Schofield. She is a national adjudicator for the Kiwanis festivals.

Besides the standard lyric soprano roles of Italian, French, and German opera, Little has sung a wide variety of both opera and concert music by 20th-century composers - Argento, Britten, Menotti, Somers, and others. In 1979 with the NACO she premiered Sydney Hodkinson's Chansons de jadis, which was written for her. She has appeared as a soloist with the TS, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, has performed with Stuart Hamilton's Opera in Concert, and has appeared as guest soloist with the Pierrot Ensemble of Ottawa in Dido and Aeneas (1989), and in Façade and a special tribute concert to Louis Applebaum (both 1990).


Further Reading

  • 'Canadians in profile,' OpCan, vol 14, Fall 1973

    Jones, Gaynor. 'There's a method in opera teacher's madness,' Toronto Star, 17 Mar 1984