Audrey Mildmay

(Grace) Audrey (Louisa St. John) Mildmay. Soprano, b Hurstmonceaux, Sussex, 19 Dec 1900, d Glyndebourne, England, 31 May 1953. She was three months old when her father accepted a post as vicar of the Church of England parish in Penticton, BC.

Mildmay, Audrey

(Grace) Audrey (Louisa St. John) Mildmay. Soprano, b Hurstmonceaux, Sussex, 19 Dec 1900, d Glyndebourne, England, 31 May 1953. She was three months old when her father accepted a post as vicar of the Church of England parish in Penticton, BC. Her first public appearance was in a children's operetta presented by the Vancouver Woman's Musical Club. In 1924 she went to London for study with Walter Johnstone-Douglas and in 1927-8 she toured North America in The Beggar's Opera. She joined the Royal Carl Rosa Opera Company, and sang Musetta, Gretel, Micaëla, Nedda, and other roles.

Mildmay married John Christie in 1931 and subsequently aided him in realizing his dream of establishing an annual opera festival on the family estate near Lewes, Sussex. On 28 May 1934 the first Glyndebourne Festival opened with Le Nozze di Figaro, featuring Mildmay as Susanna. Within five years the festival was recognized as one of the world's outstanding artistic events. During the 1930s the soprano was heard in several European centres. She moved to Canada with her two children at the outbreak of World War II, and remained until 1944. Her last operatic appearances were in Montreal (May 1943) as Susanna. On her return to England her health began to fail and, after her efforts (in collaboration with Rudolf Bing) to establish the first Edinburgh Festival (1947), she declined rapidly.

Recordings

Mildmay's voice was a light lyric soprano employed with much charm. She may be heard on the complete HMV/Glyndebourne recordings of Le Nozze di Figaro (1934, Turnabout TV-4114-4116, reissued in 1981, Turnabout Historical Series THS 65081-83, in 1989, Pearl GEMM CDS-9375, and in 2002, Naxos Historical 11086-87) and Don Giovanni (1936, Turnabout TV-4117-4119, reissued in 1989, Pearl GEMM CDS-9369) and on a recording of The Beggar's Opera (issued 1940, Victor DM-722, reissued in 1991, Pearl GEMM CD-9917. Other reissues of Mildmay recordings are heard on Glyndebourne Festival 50th Anniversary Album (EMI 2900231-241-251), 50 Years of Mozart Singing on Records (EMI CMS 7-63750, 1991), and Cosi fan tutte (Pearl GEMM CDS-9406).


Further Reading

  • Blunt, Wilfrid. John Christie of Glyndebourne (London 1968)

    Bing, Sir Rudolf. 5000 Nights at the Opera (New York 1972)