Tuesday, July 15, 2014

EILENE HANNAN (1946 - 2014)

Melbourne soprano Eilene Hannan has died. There are some names that stay with you, always.

With all the senses heightened in the opening of the Sydney Opera House, specifically the Opera Theatre as it was then simply known, and with (virtually) all the company on stage for War and Peace, she remains with me as the loveliest of Natashas in an empire line dress of pale blue elegance. I don't remember the voice, but the presence is clearly before me, still.

It was her Governess in Britten's The Turn of The Screw with Neil Armfield (he took over after Moshinsky took ill) directing for The Australian Opera that was of another dimension. It was a case of complete characterisation through voice, body and spirit. There was a specialness about her stage presence, something from within, hard to describe but remembered to this day. She believed. I have this and am now especially anxious to get our video set-up sorted (something expensive has broken).

Opera Australia has posted this obituary, and Limelight theirs here.

Little but very significant memories these for me of someone who gave so much and whose death seems sadly much too young.


David said...

We knew she was terminally ill from her ex-husband Phillip Thomas. A loss, gone far too soon like Lucia Popp, Arleen Auger, Susan Chilcott, Tatiana Troyanos. If she deserves to be mentioned in their league, for me it's because of her wrenching Rusalka, thankfully still on DVD. No ending of an opera has distressed me more than her image of Rusalka the undead at the end, condemned to an eternity of wandering.

Wish I'd seen her Natasha, and will listen to that Turn of the Screw. You're absolutely right about what came from within. This is probably why her death touches me much more than that of Lorin Maazel. Thanks for remembering her so sensitively.

wanderer said...

I missed her Rusalka (I'll look for it, poor substitute that that is when you didn't experience it live in the first place); I missed her Katya; I missed a lot.

There is to be a memorial service in Melbourne.

I haven't watched The Turn of The Screw DVD for years and will revisit that now with wiser eyes. (We have video again).

Sad isn't it. So sad.

Anonymous said...

I saw that Screw so must have seen EH in it, but I remember most her KK. She had a quality: a kind of raw emotionalism and plaintiveness, which tugged at the heart strings.

There was also a memorable old-lady scene in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.

She was pretty young when she sang Natasha in 73, wasn't she?