Margreta Elkins (AM)
(16 October 1930 – 1 April 2009)
Margreta Elkins AM was an internationally acclaimed Australian mezzo-soprano.
Throughout a long career she sang at The Royal Opera Covent Garden and with Opera Australia and other companies, but she turned down offers to sing at the Metropolitan Opera, Bayreuth and Glyndebourne.
She left a number of noteable recordings in which she sang alongside opera legends Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland.
In 1950 she made her debut touring her natal Queensland as Siebel in Faust, Azucena in Il Trovatore and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. In 1952 she toured with the National Opera Company of Australia and sang Carmen and Azucena in Brisbane.
She moved to Europe in 1956 and remained based there for the next twenty years singing with the Dublin Grand Opera Company and the Carl Rosa Opera Company performing roles such as Carmen and Dorabella in Così Fan Tutte.
In 1958 as resident principal mezzo-soprano at the Royal Opera she made her debut there singing Amneris in Aida. For the next ten years she remained there singing roles such as Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Sieglinde in Die Walküre and the Poet in The Growing Castle among many others
She also famously created the role of Hippolyta in the London premiere production of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1961 which was directed by Sir John Gielgud.
Other roles included Herodias in Salome, Maffio Orsini in Lucrezia Borgia, Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde, and Delilah in Samson and Delilah.
She was regularly partnered with fellow Australian Joan Sutherland for performances in London, of Norma (Adalgisa) Alcina (as Ruggiero) Rodelinda (as Bertarido) and as Alisa to Sutherland's Lucia.
She also sang Alisa to Maria Callas's Lucia for her 1959 recording of the opera under the baton of Tullio Serafin. After hearing Margareta Elkins in rehersal Callas had insisted she sing Alisa for the recording.
Aside from many prestigious recordings, she performed with a select number of companies (Teatro di San Carlo, the Teatro Carlo Felice, the Liceu, the Opera Company of Boston and the New Orleans Opera) however she knocked back the opportunity to sing at the Metropolitan because she didn't like the role she was offered with them.
She also later knocked back an offer to sing at Bayreuth although she remained a committed exponent of Wagner and she considered her Sieglinde in Die Walküre for the Australian Opera as the highlight of her career.
She became a principal member of the Australian Opera in 1976 and left them to go freelance in 1980.
In 1984 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her services to opera and went on to become a Sessional Lecturer in Voice at the Queensland Conservatorium.
In 1990 she played Azucena in Il Trovatore for the Queensland Lyric Opera.
In 2002 she returned to the stage as Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana for Opera Queensland.
She died of cancer in 2009, aged 78,
Margareta Elkins is remembered fondly today by all those who saw her performances. She is remembered as an artist of the highest calibre whose artistry was beyond question- truly one of the greatest voices Australia has ever produced.