Obituary: Barbara Robotham, mezzo-soprano and teacher

Charlotte Smith29th Aug 2013
Obituary: Barbara Robotham, mezzo-soprano and teacherMezzo-soprano and teacher Barbara Robotham has died at the age of 77

Mezzo-soprano and renowned singing teacher Barbara Robotham has died at the age of 77. Born in 1936, she was advised by Sir David Willcocks while singing with the Blackpool Girls’ Choir to embark upon a singing career, and subsequently studied with Elsie Thurston at the Royal Manchester College of Music, winning the Imperial League of Opera and the Curtis Gold Medal. In 1960 she won the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s international singing contest.

Despite earning success as an operatic and choral singer, it was in teaching that she discovered her true calling. In 1974 she was professor of voice at Lancaster University. She also made a number of television programmes, including a Channel 4 documentary on the difficulties facing young singers.

Robotham joined the staff of the Royal Northern College of Music (formerly the Royal Manchester) in 1979, becoming principal lecturer in 1995. An inspirational, challenging, efficient and, above all, committed mentor, she retired from her full-time role in 1999, thereafter teaching at the RNCM several days a week. She was given a long service award for her contribution to the institution in 2006. Among her most successful students were Amanda Roocroft, Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts and Jane Irwin.

Robotham is survived by her husband, Eric Waite, whom she married in 1958, and her son. Her recordings include Stravinsky's Cantata on Old English Texts for Supraphon and Walton's Gloria for EMI.

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