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Gre Brouwenstijn (1915 - 1999)

Born in Den Helder, a city in northern Holland, Gré Brouwenstijn studied at the Amsterdam Muzieklyceum: first with Jaap Stroomenbergh and subsequently with Boris Pelsky and Ruth Horna. Although she made her operatic stage début in 1940 as one of the Three Ladies/Die Zauberflöte, for most of World War II she was active as a concert singer, while also singing in operatic radio broadcasts and as a member of the Hilversum Radio Choir. She joined the Netherlands Opera in 1946, making her début as Giulietta/Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Other rôles there included the title rôle in Tosca and Santuzza/Cavalleria rusticana.

Brouwenstijn’s long association with the Holland Festival began with her first appearance there in 1949, when she sang Leonore/Il trovatore. Her other rôles at this important Dutch cultural event included Amelia/Un ballo in maschera, the Countess/Le nozze di Figaro, Desdemona/Otello, Iphigénie/Iphigénie en Tauride, Leonore/La forza del destino, Senta/Der fliegende Holländer, Tatyana/Eugene Onegin, and what was to become one of her signature parts, Leonore/Fidelio. Lord Harewood was especially impressed by her interpretation of the title rôle in Jenůfa at the 1951 Holland Festival, and invited her to appear in London at the Royal Opera House with the Covent Garden Opera Company.




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