Rae Woodland

Distinguished International Soprano

Listen to Rae sing Mozart

Listen to Rae sing Onegin

Listen to Rae sing Bernstein



It is with great sadness, that the passing of this talented singer was announced on 12th December 2013;  a lovely person and a wonderful musician.

The Arthur Bliss Society has commissioned an article about the times in her career when Rae worked with Sir Arthur Bliss.

The original Decca recording of Idomeneo, conducted by Benjamin Britten has recently been re-released. On this recording, Rae Woodland sings the role of Elektra, opposite Peter Pears', Idomeneo.  Other cast members include Heather Harper, Ilia, Anne Pashley, Idamente and Robert Tear, Arbace. Click here to listen to extracts.


  Rae Woodland was born in Nottingham and educated at The Convent of our Lady, Southam and the Mundella Grammar School, Nottingham.  After many successes in local music festivals, Rae was invited to study privately in London with Professor Roy Henderson, the teacher of Kathleen Ferrier.  Taking part in a mastercalss with Lotte Lehmann at the Wigmore Hall where she sang with Grace Bumbry, Rae so impressed Miss Lehmann as to be offered a scholarship to the Opera School in London.  There she won prizes and attracted an invitation to sing Queen of the Night in Mozart's Magic Flute, for Sadlers Wells.  She was an instant success.


  Many leading roles followed at Sadlers Wells: Venus (Tannhauser), Naiade (Ariadne auf Naxos), Fiordiligi (Cosi fan tutte), Odabella (Atilla), Electra, (Idomeneo), Giselda (I Lombardi), Mimi (La Boheme).  Rae Woodland made her Covent Garden debut in La Sonnambula with Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti and went on to sing Queen of the Night (Magic Flute), Helmwige (Walkure), and Flower Maiden (Parsifal) with Jon Vickers in the title role, conducted by Rudolf Kempe.


  Throughout her long and distinguished career, Rae has sung at many international festivals, including Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence, Rome, Wiesbaden, Antwerp. Geneva, Lyons, Bergen, Amsterdam and Brussels.  She was invited by Benjamin Britten to tour Russia with the English Opera Group singing the role of Female Chorus in Rape of Lucretia with Peter Pears singing the role of Male Chorus.  She also sang the role of Lady Billows in Albert Herring followed by a promenade concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London.


  Music Recital Mananan International festival of Music and the Arts 1983

A Recital by the Internationally renowned soprano, Rae Woodland, opened the Winter season at the Erin Arts Centre.  Those present experienced singing of a higher standard than that normaly encountered these days in the concert halls of major cities throughout the world.  In virtually every respect, Miss Woodland is a complete mistress of her art, with flawless technique, impeccable intonation and wide control of nuance and vocal colour.  It was an object lesson in total artistry and one wishes that many more young singers and students could benefit from such an example.


  At Snape maltings, Miss Woodland sang the role of Miss Jessel (Turn of the Screw), Female Chorus (Rape of Lucretia), and Electra (Idomeneo). At Glyndebourne, Rae created the role of Eugenie in Nicholas Maw's Rising of the Moon and also Frau 111 in The Visit of the Old Lady by Gottfried von Einem.  Other roles included Queen of the Night, Guinone (The Return of Ulysses), Dama (Macbeth), and Duenna (Der Rosenkavalier).


  As one of the country's leading singers in Oratorio, Rae performed all the major works with orchestras throughout Great Britain and abroad and sang many times at the Three Choirs Festival.  Rae was also in constant demand to give solo recitals, excelling in English songs and Lieder. She was invited by Sir Arthur Bliss (Master of the Queen's Music) to sing the role of Diana in the Olympians at the Royal Festival Hall, London, in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.


Miss Woodland sang for many distinguished conductors including Sir George Solti, Raphael Kubelik, Sir John Pritchard, Sir Simon Rattle, Bernard Haitink, Sir Charles Groves, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Colin Davis, Leopold Stokowski, Rudolf Schwarz, Louis Fremaux, Sir Adrian Boult, Vilem Tausky, Marcus Dodds and Norman del Mar. 


Verdi Requiem, Oxford Bach Choir, Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

"Of the soloists, the soprano Rae Woodland proved herself a magnificent Verdian.  Her splendidly operatic approach ranges widely in expression from the rising, sobbing figure in the Lacrymosa and the calm beauty of the Requiem, to the urgency of the Tremens, and the powerful Libera Me, where Miss Woodland's top C crescendo was so fabulously controlled that it rode the climax easily, and rang out wonderfully above choir and orchestra."  Oxford Mail, 29th November 1971. 


Rae also performed solo vocal roles for ballet including The Unknown Island (based on Berlioz Nuits d'Ete), La Fete Etrange by Faure and in a series of concerts with Dame Margot Fonteyn in Mauritius.  In between opera, ballet and oratorio, Rae was a firm favourite with the BBC, singing innumerable live broadcasts of Friday Night is Music Night.


  After a long and distinguished career spanning many years, Miss Woodland announced her retirement from public performance to teach at the Britten-Pears School in Snape at the invitation of Sir Peter Pears. Sir David Lumsden also persuaded her to join the staff at the Royal Academy of Music, London, to teach singing, where she was awarded HonRAM.  Acknowledged as one of the leading teachers of vocal technique, students from many parts of the world have become professional singers as a result of their training with Rae.


  Miss Woodland is regularly invited to assess and examine students at the major conservatoires, to adjudicate internationally, to lecture and to give Master Classes.  She is a member of the Music Panel of the English Speaking Union and an Adviser to the Arts Council, England.  She is also very honoured to be the third President of the Aldeburgh Music Club after Lord Britten and Sir Peter Pears.  Rae is Patron of Erin Arts, a member of the Royal Academy of Music Guild, the Association of Teachers of Singing, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, and a Life member of Equity.

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