Mildmay, Audrey (1900–1953)

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Mildmay, Audrey (1900–1953)

English lyric soprano who was a founder of the Glyndebourne Festival. Born Audrey Louise St. John in Herstmonceux, Sussex, England, on December 19, 1900; died in London on May 31, 1953; married John Christie, in 1931.

Audrey Mildmay, born Audrey Louise St. John in Herstmonceux, Sussex, in 1900, trained in London and in Vienna, where she studied with Jani Strasser. In 1927–28, she toured North America; she then joined the Carl Rosa company, staying with that group until her marriage to wealthy aristocrat John Christie in 1931. To showcase Mildmay's vocal talents, Christie designed an opera house on their estate at Glyndebourne which seated 311. Thus, the Glyndebourne Festival was born. Christie wanted to open the festival with Don Giovanni or Die Walküre, but Mildmay convinced him that Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) and Cosi fan tutte were more suited to Glyndebourne's small theater. The beauty of the surroundings continue to attract the world's finest performers, and because of the smallness of the place a sense of ensemble emerges which can be heard in numerous recordings of numerous performers. Mildmay performed Susanna, Zerlina and Norina between 1934 and 1939 and the Mozart tradition would remain strong at Glyndebourne. She also appeared as Gretel, Micaëla, Olympia, Musetta, and Nedda. Mildmay retired in 1943 and died ten years later. Glyndebourne is still one of the world's premier festivals, and as such it remains a lasting tribute to Mildmay and her husband.

sources:

Duffy, Martha. "Smiles of a Summer Night," in Time. Vol. 143, no. 24. June 13, 1994, pp. 68–70.

Sadie, Stanley, ed. New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 20 vols. NY: Macmillan, 1980.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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