Monica Sinclair

Monica Sinclair (23 March 1925 – 7 May 2002) was a British operatic contralto, who sang many roles with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden during the 1950s and 1960s, and appeared on stage and in recordings with Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Callas, Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Malcolm Sargent and many others. She had a great gift for comedy, and sang in recordings of many of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, as well as in recordings from the standard operatic repertory.


Monica Sinclair was born on 23 March 1925, in Evercreech, Somerset. Her music studies were at the Royal Academy of Music. She made her debut with the Carl Rosa Opera Company in 1948, singing Suzuki in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Her Covent Garden debut came in 1949, as the Second boy in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Her early Covent Garden roles included Maddalena (Rigoletto), Mrs Sedley (Peter Grimes), Feodor (Boris Godunov), Rosette (Manon), Flosshilde (Das Rheingold), Siegrune (Die Walküre), Azucena (Il trovatore), Pauline (The Queen of Spades), Mercedes (Carmen) and the Voice of Antonia's Mother (The Tales of Hoffmann). She can be heard as the voice of Nicklaus in the 1951 Powell and Pressburger film The Tales of Hoffmann.[1]

She made her Glyndebourne debut in 1954 in the comic role of Ragonde in the first British performance of Rossini's Le comte Ory. There she also sang Berta (The Barber of Seville), Marcellina (The Marriage of Figaro), Dryade (Ariadne auf Naxos), and Queen Henrietta (I puritani, with Joan Sutherland). In 1965 she appeared in a television version of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny on BBC2 as Mrs Begbick.[2]

Returning to Covent Garden in 1959/60, Sinclair added some new roles to her repertoire – Annina (Der Rosenkavalier, in Georg Solti's Covent Garden début, with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Sena Jurinac), Bradamante (Alcina, directed and designed by Franco Zeffirelli, with Joan Sutherland in the title role), Theodosia (Die schweigsame Frau), the Old Prioress (Dialogues des Carmélites), Marfa (Khovanshchina), Emilia (Otello) and the Marquise de Birkenfeld (La fille du régiment, with Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti). She also sang the Marquise at the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

Her other international appearances included the title role in Lully's Armide at Bordeaux in 1955.[3]


Monica Sinclair created a number of roles (at Covent Garden unless indicated):


Among Monica Sinclair's recordings are:[5]

Private life and death

Monica Sinclair's marriage to Anthony Tunstall, a former Covent Garden horn player, with whom she had six children, did not survive.[3]

She died in 2002, aged 77.



  1. ^ IMDB
  2. ^ Noel Goodwin. Review of broadcast of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. BBC2, February 28, Opera April 1965, Vol 16 No 4, p305-306.
  3. ^ a b c d e bachcantatas
  4. ^ Naxos
  5. ^ ArkivMusik
  6. ^ The Gramophone, February 1958


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