Emma Matthews (born 1970) is an English-born Australian lyric coloratura soprano, noted for operatic roles, but also popular on the concert stage. A Principal Artist with Opera Australia, Matthews has received more Helpmann Awards than any other individual artist, nine Green Room Awards, the Mo Award and the Remy Martin Australian Opera Award.
Life and career:
Born Emma Lysons in Manchester, England, she grew up with three younger sisters in Fiji, where her father worked as a maritime pilot, and Vanuatu before moving to Cairns, Queensland, Port Hedland, Western Australia, and finally Perth. There she attended Perth Modern School before studying musical theatre at the Western Australian Conservatorium of Music (part of Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts), but was persuaded by a teacher to switch to opera. She sang with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Western Australia in 1990. Since her 1991 professional debut with the West Australian Opera and appointment to Opera Australia in 1993, she has appeared in every state of Australia, notably with the State Opera of South Australia, Victorian State Opera and Opera Queensland in Adelaide, Melbourne as well as frequent appearances at the Huntington Estate Music Festival for Musica Viva from 1994.
She is married to Stephen Matthews, a former chorister and later a stage mechanic with Opera Australia.
Her first roles took advantage of her sweet light coloratura voice (capable of a top F6), her good looks, and her acting ability. She has appeared for Opera Australia as:
Damigella in L'incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi) in 1993
Ilia in Idomeneo (Mozart)
Hero in Béatrice et Bénédict (Berlioz)
Papagena and Pamina in The Magic Flute (Mozart)
Oscar in Un ballo in maschera (Verdi)
Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier (Richard Strauss)
Marie in La fille du régiment (Donizetti)
Nannetta in Falstaff (Verdi)
Rosina in The Barber of Seville (Rossini)
Blonde and Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Mozart)
Morgana in Alcina (Handel)
Almirena in Rinaldo (Handel)
Servilia in La clemenza di Tito (Mozart)
Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)
Sophie in Werther (Massenet)
Adele in Die Fledermaus (Johann Strauss)
She has later taken on more challenging roles, often being compared with Joan Sutherland who, with her husband Richard Bonynge, was something of a friend and mentor.
Ismene in Mitridate, re di Ponto (Mozart) (produced by Graham Vick) for the 2001 Sydney Festival
Stasi in Die Csárdásfürstin (Kálmán)
Genovieffa in Suor Angelica (Puccini)
all four heroines (Stella, Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta) in The Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach)
Zwaantie in Batavia (Richard Mills) 2001 world premiere
Lulu in Lulu (Alban Berg)
Bystrouškain/Sharpears, the Vixen in The Cunning Little Vixen (Janáček) for Opera Australia
Philomele in The Love of the Nightingale (Richard Mills) - 2007 world premiere
Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare (Handel)
Juliette in Roméo et Juliette (Gounod)
Lakmé in Lakmé (Delibes)
Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)
Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Bellini)
Gilda in Rigoletto (Verdi)
Violetta in La traviata (Verdi)
Matthews has also been well received in concerts, with a repertoire from Mozart's Requiem, Haydn Masses, and Handel's Messiah to works by Brahms, Poulenc and Villa Lobos, and Mahler's Symphonies No. 2 and No. 4. She appeared with José Carreras in Sydney 2008, then on New Year's Eve in Mozart's Great Mass in C minor with Sir Charles Mackerras and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
She appeared, billed as Emma Lysons, in the 1995 Alan John opera The Eighth Wonder about the Sydney Opera House, broadcast on ABC TV the night following its world premiere.
The Edge by Nigel Westlake. pub. Tall Poppies TP-085, produced for an IMAX movie about the Blue Mountains,
Handel Arias pub. Artworks AW029 in 2001, well-known pieces including her Morgana and Almirena parts with the New Zealand Chamber Orchestra.,
Emma Matthews in Monte Carlo, bel canto arias with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, recorded by Deutsche Grammophon, released 2009 on ABC Classics, catalog no. 476 3555,
ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards 1993,
Helpmann Awards for The Love of a Nightingale, Arabella, Lakmé and Lulu,
Mo Award (Classical Performer of the Year) for Lulu,
Green Room Awards for her parts in Lulu, Clemenza di Tito, Rinaldo, The Marriage of Figaro, Batavia, Signor Bruschino, Julius Caesar and Lakmé,
Remy Martin Australian Opera Award Best Female Singer: 1996, as Lulu 2003, as Sofia 2005.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license