The classical singing world lost one of its real luminaries when soprano Eilene Hannan died in England last week. Eilene enjoyed a stellar career on the world’s opera stages, from Australia to England to America. Many people will recall her Green Room Award for a marvellous portrayal of the governess in the Turn of The Screw here, and colleague Margaret Haggart also recalled her magical portrayal as Mimi in La Boheme. Maggie said that she cried for real at the end of that opera, as Eileen was so truthful and heartbreaking in that role. She also said it was a privilege to be on stage with her and an even greater one to call her a friend. Fellow soprano Helen Noonan described her simply as a gorgeous singer and person, while Mary Ryan probably summed up many people’s thoughts when she said that Eilene’s passing is such a loss to everyone who k new her – a wonderful singer and a very special, lovely person. She had so much to give the next generation of singers. As an adjudicator, she always provide wise, supportive and constructive support to the emerging generations of teenage classical singers. She was also a gifted language coach for singers.
Eilene did indeed enjoy a brilliant career, and the Mietta Song Competition owes her a great debt, as she was instrumental in supporting singers of art song over the years. She was a judge of the competition in 2006, and conducted master classes in 2008 and 2010, as she was a particular expert on the art of singing English art song. Eilene left us too soon, but what a legacy she has bequeathed to our competition and all involved in it. Vale Eilene Hannan, and may the angels sing their art songs better for having you to guide them.
(This tribute was presented at the 2014 Mietta Song Competition by Julie Houghton).