Gladys Parr papers

Scope and Content

Items concerning the career of British mezzo-soprano Gladys Parr, from 1917-1950s. This includes photographic studio portraits of Parr in costume for multiple operas, programmes for opera and concert performances across the UK, press cuttings with reviews of Parr's performances and correspondence between prodcuters, composers and opera cast members.

Administrative / Biographical History

After studying at the Royal College of Music, Parr joined the Carl Rosa Company in 1915, and sang a multitude of roles including Suziki in Madam Butterfly, Mistress Quickly in Falstaff, Siebel in Faust, and Delilah in Samson and Delilah. She continued to perform with the Carl Rosa Opera Company for thirty years of her career, from 1915-1945. She also worked with the Allington Charsley Opera Company in 1918, and the British National Opera Company from 1924-1927. She toured throughout the UK, often performing in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and London.

From 1930-1937, Parr worked with the Covent Garden Opera Company. In 1931 she took a prominent part in Covent Garden's season of Opera in English, touring across the UK in productions of Die Fledermaus, Madam Butterfly and The Mastersingers. In the 1930’s, Parr worked alongside Joan Cross in productions at Sadler’s Wells, including Die Fledermaus in 1934 and in Verdi’s Falstaff in 1936.

After the war, Parr sang regularly with the English Opera Group from 1947-1958. Parr worked with Britten on multiple occasions, playing the mezzo leads in the first performances of: Albert Herring as Florence (1947), The Beggar’s Opera as Beggar/Mrs Trapes/Dolly Trull (1949), The Little Sweep as Miss Baggott (1949), Noye’s Fludde as Mrs Noye (1958).

Parr’s last opera performances took place in the 1950s. One of Parr’s last roles was with the Birmingham Repertory Company as Mrs Heidelberg in Garrick's The Clandestine Marriage. Her only roles after this were in productions by Britten. In 1957, Parr took part in the reunion performance of Albert Herring at the 10th Aldeburgh Festival, with members of the original cast. The following year in 1958, Parr returned to the Aldeburgh Festival to play Mrs Noye in the premiere of Noye’s Fludde.

Access Information


This material is made available under the standard conditions of the Britten-Pears Foundation. Readers will be required to produce proof of identity and to sign a Reader's Undertaking form.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Judith Tydeman, Aug 2005. Biography taken from the obituaries in The Times and The Independent.

Related Material

See BBA/PARR_G for correspondence between Britten and Parr and also PPA/PARR_G for correspondence between Pears and Parr.


Obituaries in The Times 14 Nov 1988 and The Independent 15 Nov 1988.