Lois McDonall

Lois (Jeanette) McDonall. Soprano, b Larkspur, near Edmonton, 7 Feb 1939. Her early teachers were Eileen McEcheran Turner in Edmonton and Glyndwr Jones in Vancouver.

McDonall, Lois

Lois (Jeanette) McDonall. Soprano, b Larkspur, near Edmonton, 7 Feb 1939. Her early teachers were Eileen McEcheran Turner in Edmonton and Glyndwr Jones in Vancouver. She was a semi-finalist in the 1964 Metropolitan Opera auditions, studied 1965-8 at the University of Toronto with Irene Jessner, and made her COC debut in 1967 as Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. She sang the title role in Tosca, Constanze in The Abduction from the Seraglio, and Elsa in Lohengrin 1968-9 in Flensburg, Germany, before becoming a resident artist at Sadler's Wells (now English National Opera) in 1969. She made her debut there on short notice, 21 Oct 1970, in the title role of Handel's Semele when Elizabeth Harwood became ill in the first act. That season McDonall sang all subsequent performances of that role, and also sang Constanze in The Abduction from the Seraglio. In the 1972-3 season at Sadler's Wells she assumed several new roles: Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Antonia in The Tales of Hoffmann, Freia in Das Rheingold, and Hanna in The Merry Widow. In following seasons she added, among others, the title role in Manon (1974), the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier (1975; the critic of The Times wrote: 'a beautifully poised reading, distinguished by her properly aristocratic highness of tone and the breadth of her phrasing... her tone for 'Hab mir gelobt' was gloriously rich, her phrasing replete with emotion'), Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (1976), Violetta in La Traviata (1976), the title role in Euryanthe (1977), Musetta in La Bohème (1981), and Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw (1984). She created the title role in Iain Hamilton's opera Anna Karenina in 1981 and also premiered other works by him. In addition to her work as a resident artist 1969-84 at the English National Opera, she made guest appearances with the Scottish and Welsh National Opera companies, with Opera North, and at the Royal Opera House, as well as at summer festivals throughout Great Britain. She returned to Canada for performances with Festival Canada (the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, 1974; see Festival Ottawa), the COC (Die Fledermaus, 1975), and the Edmonton Opera (Donna Anna, 1977).

McDonall returned to live in Canada in 1984. She has appeared as the Countess in Opera Hamilton's 1984 production of The Marriage of Figaro, performed with Toronto Operetta Theatre, created the role of Mrs Medlock in Stephen McNeff's The Secret Garden for COMUS Music Theatre in 1985, sang the title role in Fedora with Opera in Concert in 1988, and sang in the COC production of Andrea Chenier in 1989.

McDonall taught at the Banff SFA (winter 1984) and began teaching at the University of Toronto in 1985 and at the RCMT in 1987.


Further Reading

  • Mercer, Ruby. 'An interview with Lois McDonall,' OpCan, Oct 1975

    Wadsworth, Stephen. 'Canada's Lois McDonall,' ibid, Dec 1977

    Littler, William. 'Edmonton soprano takes flight in London,' Toronto Star, 10 Sep 1979

    Forbes, Elizabeth. 'The composer's choice,' OpCan, Fall 1981

    Portman, Jamie. 'City-born star comes home,' Edmonton Journal, 19 Nov 1983