Pamela Helen Stephen has died, aged 57

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The mezzo-soprano featured on 30 recordings ranging from Strauss and Szymanowski to Mozart and Sullivan

Pamela Helen Stephen, who has died aged 57 (photo: Chris Gloag, Intermusica)
Pamela Helen Stephen, who has died aged 57 (photo: Chris Gloag, Intermusica)

The British mezzo-soprano Pamela Helen Stephen has died at the age of 57. Renowned for her operatic work over a period of more than 30 years, she performed with all the major UK opera companies, from Opera North and Welsh National Opera early in her career, to English National Opera and the Royal Opera House in more recent times.

Her extensive discography includes more than 30 recordings, ranging from Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos and Szymanowski’s Stabat mater (for Chandos, a label with which she was closely associated) to Cherubino in Figaro under Gardiner and Phoebe in The Yeoman of the Guard under Mackerras. She also recorded the complete Haydn Masses, again for Chandos, with Collegium Musicum 90 and her conductor-husband Richard Hickox, who died in 2008.

Of her involvement in the afore-mentioned Szymanowski Stabat mater, recorded with the BBC SO under Edward Gardner, Geoffrey Norris wrote in October 2013: ‘The quiet ecstasy and consolation of the final section, with Lucy Crowe, Pamela Helen Stephen and Robert Murray adding their voices to the soft cushion of the chorus, crown a performance that is judged to a nicety through Gardner’s wise, sensitive pacing’.

Stephen studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, with Herta Glaz at the Opera Theater Center at Aspen, Colorado, and in Toronto with Patricia Kern. In addition to the major British opera companies, she sang for Opera Australia and LA Opera, and at festivals in St Endellion and Wexford. She also appeared in countless concert performances with the LSO, LPO, Philharmonia, CBSO, RSNO and others, and at the BBC Proms. Her operatic repertory included Dido (Dido and Aeneas), Sesto and Giulio Cesare (Giulio Cesare), Maddalena (Rigoletto), Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier), Kate (Owen Wingrave) and Sonya (War and Peace). In the 2019/20 season, she reprised the role of Annina in La Traviata at the ROH.

Stephen was represented by Intermusica, which paid tribute on its website to ‘a wonderful artist and colleague, and a very dear friend’.


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