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Open Features: Janet Baker

Peter Wintersgill tells of Britain#s beloved opera star, Yorkshire-born Dame Janet Baker.

Born
21 August, 1933, in Hatfield, South Yorkshire

Father
Robert, a mechanic

Mother
May.

Adult life
Dame Janet sang in Leeds Philharmonic Choir and was a soloist in Haydn's Nelson Mass in 1953. She studied with Helenelsepp and Meriel St. Claire. She joined the Ambrosian Singers in 1955 and was awarded second prize in the Kathleen Ferrier Competition of 1956.

Her opera debut was in 1956 as Rosa in Smetana's The Secret at Glyndebourne. She sang leading roles with the Handel Opera Society, starting with Rinaldo in 1959.

Her long association with Britten at Aldeburgh began in 1963 with Polly in his realisation of The Beggar's Opera. She sang Dido in Dido and Aeneas in Birmingham in 1961.

In 1964 she Angel in Elgar's Dream of Gerontius with Barbirolli. Her Covent Garden debut was as Hermia in Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream 1966. She sang Gluck's Orpheus in 1979, Diana in La Calista in 1970, Penelope in Ritorno in 1972 and Kate in Britten's Owen Wingrave in 1973.

She was created a Dame of the British Empire. 1976.

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