(17 February 1907 – 13 January 1979)
Marjorie Lawrence CBE was an Australian soprano.
She was particularly known for her Wagnerian roles. Born in rural Victoria in Australia in 1928 she won the Sun Aria singing competition.
She went on to study in Paris with Cécile Gilly who helped extend her voice's upper range.
Marjorie Lawrence debuted in 1932 in Monte Carlo as Elisabeth in Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser. In 1933, she made her debut at the Opera Garnier in Paris, playing Ortrud in Lohengrin.
In 1935 she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera playing Brünnhilde in Die Walküre and the following year played the immolation scene in Götterdämmerung by riding her horse into the flames as Wagner had intended, the first soprano in history to do so and only possible because she had learned to ride horses as a child
Her Siegfried on this ocassion was Lauritz Melchior and as this performance was recorded it remains the only complete Götterdämmerung Siegfried of Melchior on record.
Praised for her voice and her good looks Marjorie Lawrence was an extremely popular artist with audiences and even performed Richard Strauss's Salome more convincingly than most others doing the dance of the seven veils herself rather than let a dancer take it over as was often the custom in those days.
She also made a fine Carmen and made a number of excellent recordings mainly from the Wagnerian repertoire.
She returned to Australia to perform on ocassions and was praised for her powerful voice "rich in vocal splendour".
In 1941 Ms Lawrence was brought down by polio - during a performance in Mexico City she suddenly lost all power in her legs and was unable to stand.
After 18 months of treatment she returned to the stage and had to perform either sitting in a chair or reclining on a specially constructed platform.
Despite the obvious difficulties she continued to perform until 1952 when she retired to her home in Arkansas where she taught international students with promise until her death in 1979.
Her autobiography was turned into a motion picture, Interrupted Melody in 1955 with Eleanor Parker and Glen Ford playing the parts of Marjorie Lawrence and her husband.
Marjorie Lawrence died of heart failure aged 71, January 13th, 1979