Pamela Helen Stephen, opera singer
Pamela Helen Stephen, who died of cancer at the age of 57, will be remembered as a talented mezzo-soprano.
In a career that spanned more than two decades, Stephen has performed across the world in America, Australia and England and made over 30 recordings.
One of her first performances was as Cathleen Sweeney in The rising of the moon at the Wexford Opera in 1990. The following year, she performed Mozart in The jewelry box for Opéra Nord. She also performed at the Welsh National Opera early in her career. In 1994, she played Phoebe Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard. In 1997 Stephen made his Royal Opera debut in The pilgrim’s progression.
Stephen has been mentioned favorably by critics for his strong acting ability. Write in The Guardian in 2011 about Monteverdi’s Return of Ulysses – a collaboration between the English National Opera and The Young Vic where Stephen played Penelope – Fiona Maddocks said: “Stephen was remarkable; too believable in its exploration of loss, daring in physicality ”.
In the same year, Michael Tanner wrote in The spectator: “Stephen is the only Penelope I can imagine.”
Other notable performances include Handel Julius Caesar in 2012 in which she played the title role, as well as the English National Opera production of Giacomo Puccini Madame Papillon where she played Suzuki.
Born in the market town of Solihull in the West Midlands, Stephen had Scottish ancestors. His father William Hay Stephen worked as a marketing director. His mother Audrey (née Brown) was working, but her work varies by account; some suggest that she was a teacher and others that she was employed by the Remington Typewriter Company.
It is clear however that Audrey sang with the Edinburgh Festival Chorus. Stephen had two brothers – Brian and Graham.
As a child, she attended Widney Primary School. When she was 10, she moved to Scotland with her family and was educated at Cults Academy in Aberdeen. While a student, she impressed her peers by playing Maria in a school production of The sound of music. Stephen studied at the Royal Academy of Music and Drama, the University of Toronto, and the Opera Theater Center in Aspen, Colorado.
In 1995, Stephen married Richard Hickox. When he became musical director of Opera Australia in 2005, he involved her in several of its productions, much to the dismay of some Australian lyrical artists. However, his decisions were supported by his employers. Hickox died suddenly of a heart attack in 2008.
Stephen is survived by his son Adam who conducts for the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and his daughter Abigail, who is a student, as well as his partner Stephen Lumsden who is the Managing Director of Intermusica, the classical music agency that represented him. .
Pamela Helen Stephen, mezzo-soprano born January 27, 1964, died November 30, 2021