Lesley Garrett: Opera must give more roles to older women - or die

In the modern world, older women run countries and corporations. It's time opera composers reflected this, says soprano Lesley Garrett.

Lesley Garrett

LISTEN AGAIN: Lesley Garrett on Charlotte Green's Culture Club

The award-winning soprano Lesley Garrett is calling on modern-day opera composers to consider creating more roles for older women singers.

"There are almost none to be honest," the singer told Classic FM on this week's edition of Charlotte Green's Culture Club (Sunday 28 June, 3pm). 

"If we want opera to be seen as a contemporary art form, it has to reflect contemporary society," Garrett said. "Women now are captains of industry, we’re holding great offices of state, we’re running countries, and this has to be reflected in the writing of opera."


Garrett is currently to be seen playing the role of Despina in Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte at Garsington Opera. The worldly maid - a role normally reserved for younger sopranos - is one that Garrett has been playing for several decades. Now 60, she plays Despina as an older, wiser, wedding planner.

"Society has changed, the world has changed, and opera has to change to reflect that, otherwise it's going to be seen as a museum art form and, believe you me, it isn’t." 

Sopranos, she said, are also increasingly able to perform well into their senior years.

"Now because we have much better health care, we have better training, we have the wonder of HRT, we're all singing on into our 60s and 70s." 

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