Attractive in appearance and of pleasing voice, soprano Jill Gomez achieved success in her early career in a variety of lyric roles. Surprisingly, the most unreserved acclaim came much later in life when she portrayed the debauched Duchess in Thomas Adès' Powder Her Face, a role that revealed a new dramatic power allied with a still-viable voice. Even before she became a center of renewed attention for the Duchess, Gomez had won the hearts of many for her series of smart and sophisticated cabaret programs later preserved on recording. Gomez studied at both the Guildhall School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music in London. Her stage debut was as Adina in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore with the Glyndebourne Touring Opera in 1968. Graduating to the parent company almost immediately, she sang Mélisande the next year and the title role in Raymond Leppard's 1970 realization of Cavalli's Callisto. That same year, Gomez appeared as Flora in Michael Tippett's densely concentrated The Knot Garden in the opera's premiere at Covent Garden. She achieved success in several other lyric roles at Covent Garden (Lisa in Bellini's La Sonnambula and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi) and as Tytania in Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. She established a positive relationship with the Scottish Opera and sang several Mozart roles there (Pamina, the Countess, and Fiordiligi) as well as Anne in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress and Elizabeth in Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers. Another role on her list of creations was the Countess in Thea Musgrave's The Voice of Ariadne. Gomez had frequently recorded, devoting herself most frequently to songs of Spain and France. Her disc devoted to Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne won affirmative reviews as have her recorded recitals of French works. In addition, two delicious recitals devoted to cabaret music have been issued to glowing reviews. Her Duchess in Adès' Powder Her Face was preserved by EMI with the original cast and the composer in charge of musical direction. Gomez's portrayal is a tour de force, alternately opulent and unhinged. She achieves the difficult task of making a figure of ridicule into a person who evokes sympathy from the listener.
Share this page