The Elizabeth Harwood Papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1179 EH
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English, and German.
  • Physical Description
      14 series: approximately 60 boxes
      The majority of items are on paper, although the papers include a significant number of photographs and recordings (on magnetic tape and vinyl).

Scope and Content

Correspondence, programmes, posters, recordings, diaries, photographs, press cuttings, accounts and other items covering the professional career of the soprano Elizabeth Harwood.

Administrative / Biographical History

Elizabeth Harwood was born on 27 May 1938, and studied at the Royal Manchester College of Music graduating GRSM, ARMCM and LRAM. her first opera appearance away from College was for the Buxton Opera Group in 1957 (as Michaela in Passion Flower - an adaptation of Carmen).

In 1960 she went to Glyndebourne (as Second Boy in The Magic Flute), and won the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Scholarship. With the Scholarship Elizabeth spent a year in Milan studying with Lina Pagliughi, an eminent interpreter of Verdi: during this visit she entered for the Verdi Competition in Busseto and was joint winner. On her return to the UK she was engaged by Sadlers Wells (for Gilda in Rigoletto and Countess Adele in Count Ory). She stayed with the Company learning her repertoire over five years, before her international career was launched by an invitation to join the Sutherland Williamson Grand Opera Company in an Australian tour in 1965, when she alternated with Joan Sutherland in the leading roles. On her return to the UK she was engaged by The English Opera Group (as Galatea in Acis & Galatea) for performances in Sweden, Versailles and at the Aldeburgh Festival. The success of this production in France resulted in her engagement (as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni) at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 1967. In that same year she made her Covent Garden debut (in Arabella).

Also in 1967 Elizabeth took part in the internationally acclaimed Scottish Opera production of Cosi fan Tutte (as Fiordiligi to Janet Baker's Dorabella), which undoubtedly paved the way for Elizabeth's Salzburg debut in 1970 (in Cosi). The following year she performed again for the Scottish Opera (as Sophie in Die Rosenkavalier) in another internationally acclaimed production.

The reputation Elizabeth obtained in Acis & Galatea at Aix-en-Provence attracted the attention of Herbert von Karajan, who invited her to Salzburg in 1969 (as Constanze in Die Entfuhrung and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte). The following year she was the first English soprano to perform at the Salzburg Festival - in Le Nozze di Figaro produced and conducted by von Karajan, a role which she was to reprise in many subsequent Festivals. She performed in a number of major productions at La Scala (debut 1972), the Metropolitan Opera (debut 1975), Covent Garden and Glyndebourne, giving her last operatic performance for The Buxton Festival (in La Colombe at Sadlers' Wells, 1983).

In addition to operatic performances Elizabeth gave numerous recitals and took part in many oratorios. She was particularly associated with Messiah, performing over 100 times - the earliest aged 16, deputising for her mother. During the 1980s she gave a number of international tours: in 1983 to New Zealand, Australia in 1986, and British Columbia in 1988. She performed many times at the Rasigueres Festival of Wine and Music (France).

Elizabeth married Julian A.C. Royle in 1966 and they had one son, Nicholas. The family lived at Fryerning, Ingatestone, Essex, where a plaque is dedicated to Elizabeth Harwood in the parish church following her death on June 22 1990.


As per original order, in the following series:Biography and publicity; Contracts and agreements; Engagements; Diaries; Programmes; Recordings; Photographs; Scrapbooks; Press cuttings; Correspondence; Diplomas; Educational notes; Accounts; Memorials.

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Julian A.C. Royle, July 2003.


Description by M Sarah Wickham, with biographical note based on the publicity brochure of The Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Trust.

Other Finding Aids

Royal Northern College of Music Archives catalogue (CALM). Hard copy indexes of Elizabeth Harwood's performances (arranged chronologically, by composer, and by location) are available.

Conditions Governing Use

Elizabeth Harwood's copyright is vested in her widower, Julian A.C. Royle. Other copyright according to the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

Appraisal Information

A list of the contents of Elizabeth Harwood's reference library of books, recordings and music is available. These items were not retained with the papers.

Financial records are to be appraised.

Custodial History

Elizabeth Harwood's father, at the start of her career, took the decision to collect programmes, cuttings and all other material relating to her professional life. Her husband Julian Royle continued this practice after their marriage. The papers were maintained and held at the Royle home, Masonetts in Ingatestone, Essex, until July 17th 2003 when they were given to the RNCM.


Video recordings of performances will be given by the family - a list is available.

Related Material

RMCM Archive.

Private correspondence, portrait as Susannah (Le Nozze di Figaro) and costume drawings (Sophie - Der Rosenkavalier The Countess - Count Ory; Fiordiligi - Cosi fan Tutte) retained by the family.

Musical scores (annotated and used by Elizabeth Harwood) held at the National Opera Studio c/o Isobel Flinn. A list will be available.

Costumes (La Traviata and Les Contes d'Hoffmann) and portrait of Antonia (Les Contes d'Hoffmann) on loan to the Gallery of the Performing Arts, Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire.