About Jean Stuart

Jean Stuart (December 30, 1935 – May 29, 2012) was an acclaimed South African operatic mezzo-soprano.

 
Jean Stuart & Nellie du Toit in "Madama Butterfly".
 
JEAN STUART in her garden.

Jean's Life

Jean was born in Krugersdorp on 30 December 1935.

As a person she was overflowing with great understanding, generosity, patience and, above all, love. Her steadfast belief in God went beyond all measure, and that’s how she lived her life and inspired others to live theirs.

Those who had the privilege of meeting and knowing and loving her, always left her presence with great upliftment and spiritual gratitude.

She passed away on 29 May 2012, the same day as her twin sister a couple of years ago. Her husband, Eric, passed away in 2011. She is survived by her sister, three daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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Jean Stuart & Nellie du Toit in "Madama Butterfly".
 
JEAN STUART with her music.

Jean's Training

Athe age of five, Jean knew that she wanted to be a singer. As a teenager, after listening to a recording of Joan Sutherland,, she decided that she wanted to be an opera singer. "Since I can remember, my life revolved around singing and music." - 1980

In 1962, at the age of 27, Jean began her formal voice training. She studied with some of South Africa’s top singing teachers, such as Margaret van der Post, Joyce Barker, Frederick Dalberg, and Sjörd Beute, among others.

After a mere 12 singing lessons with Joyce Barker, Jean auditioned for the PACOFS choir and was offered soloist roles in three operas: Kate Pinkerton in "Madama Butterfly", Alisia in "Lucia di Lammermoor", and Fanny in "The Cooper".

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Jean Stuart & Nellie du Toit in "Madama Butterfly".
 
JEAN STUART (backstage)
in her younger years.

Jean's Voice

Jean was one of South Africa’s most sought after mezzo-soprano’s. Her singing was founded on astonishing technique.

Jean was a singer of astounding versatility with a wide vocal range and a voice with great dramatic tendencies. During her lifetime, she was one of South Africa’s top mezzo-sopranos, thrilling audiences with her warm dark voice.

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Jean Stuart & Nellie du Toit in "Madama Butterfly".
 
JEAN STUART (backstage)
in her younger years.

 

Jean's Career

Jean was primarily an opera singer and sung in over 1000 professional performances for all the former performing arts councils (PACT, CAPAB, NAPAC and PACOFS) of South Africa, as well as other organizations.

Throughout her career she performed in 34 operas. She was cast in sought-after operatic roles, including Suzuki in “Madama Butterfly”, Gertrude in “Hansel and Gretel”, Clotilda in “Norma”, Mary in “The Flying Dutchman”, The Mother Superior in “The Sound of Music” and Anina in “La Traviata”, among others.

Jean was also very well known for her singing of oratorio work, especially the “Messiah” and the “Weihnachts-Oratorium”. She performed with orchestras under many famous visiting conductors and shared the stage with famous visiting international opera singers.

As a soloist, Jean shared the stage with, among others, Mimi Coertse, Nellie du Toit, Wendy Fine, Hans van Heerden and Nicola Cencherle.

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Jean's Teachings

Jean Stuart settled in Cape Town in 1989 where she continued to put back into the area the expertise that she has acquired. She opened her own vocal studio in Plumstead, and taught the Italian (Bel Canto) method of voice training. She was an expert in voice development, and was considered one of the best voice teachers in South Africa.

She coached and inspired many young singers over the years, including a wide range of professional performers such as Katherine Henderson, Zenobia Kloppers, Jo-nette le Kay and Selim Kagee, among others. Her singing students hosted a tribute concert for Jean a week before her untimely passing.

Her great presence, her stern look followed by a gentle smile, the glint in her eye when she was satisfied with a note or a line and, above all, her own beautiful voice will be sorely missed.

Through her teachings and imparted wisdom, the passion and legacy of Jean Stuart will live on for generations to come.

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