In the 1990's Jane Eaglen emerged as the long hoped for major dramatic soprano voice, the most important since the retirement of Birgit Nilsson. In addition she brought an unexpected versatility, singing music of Mozart, Bellini, Puccini, Verdi, and Strauss.
In her hometown of Lincoln, England, in the north Midlands hurt interest in music was first noticed by a neighbor, who suggested that Jane take piano lessons when the girl was five. She kept taking them until she was sixteen. Her musical interests were more directed towards pop and rock music than classical, and she apparently had no thought of becoming an opera singer. However her voice developed a pure, sweet sound, not suited to pop music. Her piano teacher suggested that she studied voice.
She studied with a local teacher when she was sixteen and seventeen years old. When the teacher predicted that one day she would sing Norma and Brünnhilde, Jane naively responded "Are they good?" Jane applied for the Guildhall School in London but was turned down. She auditioned for Joseph Ward, voice professor at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, England. Ward spotted her potential and accepted her as his student. Eaglen says that there must have been "four or five notes in the middle of my voice that sounded like something." Ward began to teach her the music and the style of operas of Bellini and Wagner, so that she would know it when the time came. But he counseled her to be patient, as big voices typically take time to develop.
At the age of twenty-two she became a member of the English National Opera. She did not become on overnight success. She spent several years singing parts like Berta, the maid in The Barber of Seville, and other short parts, including one of the trio of Ladies in Mozart's Magic Flute. She got the role of Leonora in Verdi's il Trovatore, and then made a sensation as Santuzza in Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana.
It was as Donna Anna, in Mozart's Don Giovanni that she first gained international fame. She has sung that part at the Vienna State Opera, in Munich, and Bologna, and also in her debut appearance at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. She has also sung Amelia (Verdi's Un ballo in maschera), Turandot, Tosca, La Gioconda, and Strauss's Ariadne. Fulfilling her first teacher's prediction, she became particularly well known as Bellini's Norma . The London Sunday Times called her "The Norma of the 1990's."
Moving into the repertory of Wagner's operas, she sang a thrilling interpretation of Isolde in Seattle. She points out that there are great similarities between Norma and Isolde, including the character of the melodic line, for Wagner admired Bellini's melodic writing. Fulfilling the other half of her first teacher's prediction, she sang her first Ring cycle, as Brünnhilde, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In the spring of 2000 she was scheduled to sing that complete role in the Metropolitan Opera's internationally broadcast radio series.
Jane Eaglen is an exclusive artist for the Sony Music label. ~ Joseph Stevenson