Valerie Masterson CBE
Opera at Bearwood is honoured to have Miss Valerie Masterson CBE as our President. Valerie Masterson first drew the attention of British audiences as a member of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, singing soprano leads in the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Valerie subsequently became principal soprano with Sadlers' Wells Opera and English National Opera, singing music ranging from Lehar and Strauss to Puccini and Verdi. There followed starring roles at Covent Garden, at Glyndebourne and, over a career lasting more than 30 years, all the major opera houses around the world. It was in the French repertoire that Valerie had her greatest successes, particularly as Massenet’s Manon and in Gounod’s Faust and Romeo and Juliet. She sang these roles in London, Paris and many other cities. Valerie's purity of line, wide range and easy facility for ornamentation also ideally suited her to the operas of Handel, Mozart and Rossini.
As a ‘home-grown’ soprano with a personality as charming as her appearance, Valerie became popular with wider audiences through frequent contributions to “Friday Night is Music Night”, “The Good Old Days”, television and radio broadcasts of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas and live relays from English National Opera and The Proms. Amongst Valerie's many recordings are numerous Gilbert and Sullivan compositions, an outstanding La Traviata with Sir Charles Mackerras, Handel’s Julius Caesar and, for collectors of lighter music, The King and I, Kismet and Bittersweet.
Valerie retired from the stage in 1997, but as Vice-President of British Youth Opera she continues to work with young singers. She also gives talks and master classes at the annual Buxton Festival. Valerie had regularly attended Opera at Bearwood's performances when, in 2011, we offered her the role of President of the company. We were, of course, delighted when she accepted the position. Valerie still regularly attends Opera at Bearwood's rehearsals and performances, providing encouragement and enthusiasm to the performers.