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HELEN ROBERTS

Helen Roberts joined the D'Oyly Carte Company in 1938 as principal soprano. For the next ten years she played all the major parts (including Princess Ida) except Aline, Rose Maybud, and Casilda. Those who remember Miss Roberts' playing will still be able to recall the electric effect of her brilliant first entrance as Mabel,surely one of her most successful parts, for she was a coloratura soprano whose voice was exactly suited to the "farmyard effects" (as Sullivan described "Poor Wandering One").

Her Elsie Maynard was an exciting interpretation which could chill as she sang of matrimony and widowhood in that difficult Act I song. Her Patience was simple and charming, her Gianetta vivacious, and her Phyllis rustic and hearty. It is a pity that she never recorded any of her roles for the D'Oyly Carte Company, since she was a soprano in the high tradition of Elsie Griffin, Winifred Lawson, and Muriel Dickson.

Since 1948 Helen Roberts and her husband, Richard Walker, travelled the world together. They have played in productions of the operas given by the Williamson management in Australia and New Zealand, and they have presented Gilbert and Sullivan in their own two-person entertainment throughout the United States and Canada. Miss Roberts designed the costumes for this entertainment. They have sung and lectured on the operas under the auspices of the British Council in places as remote as Fiji, with an occasional intermission in "My Fair Lady" and other productions in Australia. President Eisenhower asked the Walkers to give their concert programme at his pre-inauguration party at the White House following his re-election in 1956. This signal honour had to be declined as the Walkers were then in Australia.

Yes: Helen Roberts and Richard Walker were two indefatigable enthusiasts for the operas. Their record of dedication in number of years is enviable and it is perhaps difficult to find today two such active and experienced proponents of Gilbert and Sullivan Opera as Richard and Helen Walker.



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