Death announced of soprano Bernadette Greevy


The renowned mezzo-soprano Bernadette Greevy has died after a short illness, it has been announced.

The board of the Anna Livia International Opera Festival, of which Dr Greevy was founder and artistic director, issued a statement announcing the news this afternoon.

Dr Greevy died on Friday.

"In accordance with her express wishes, she was buried this morning after Mass in Raheny church, at a quiet family funeral. Her death is an incalculable loss to her family and many friends," the opera festival board said.

The Dublin born singer was recognised as one of the finest mezzo-sopranos of her time.

Dr Greevy (68) enjoyed a career spanning more than 40 years.

She played a variety of operatic roles, including Bizet's Carmen, Eboli in Verdi’s Don Carlos, Dalila in Saint-Saëns Samson et Dalila, Orfeo in Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridiceand Azucena in Verdi’s Il Trovatore.

"She was particularly renowned as an interpreter of Gustav Mahler and performed all his vocal works in the nineties over a four year period in the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, to great critical acclaim," the Anna Livia statement said.

In the mid eighties, Dr Greevy participated in the first official cultural exchange from Ireland to China where she gave public recitals and masterclasses in three major Chinese cities. She was the first Artist in Residence of the Dublin Institute of Technology and Faculty of Applied Arts.

"For almost twenty years Dr Bernadette Greevy’s masterclasses at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Kilmainham Dublin were a hightlight of musical excellence and learning.

"She founded the Anna Livia Dublin International Opera Festival in 2000 where she used her considerable experience as an artist to bring traditional grand opera back to Dublin audiences while at the same time was a prime mover in encouraging young Irish talent."

Awards conferred upon her included the Harriet Cohen International Music Award for Outstanding Artistry; the Order of Merit of Malta; honorary doctorates of music from the National University of Ireland and Trinity College Dublin; the Jacob's Award (1978) for her performance on radio of major Mahler works and the papal cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice conferred by the Holy See.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he was saddened to hear of the death of Dr Greevy.

"Bernadette had an outstanding operatic voice, which was appreciated worldwide. She enjoyed being the driving force behind the Anna Livia Dublin International Opera Festival, which gives so much enjoyment to thousands of

opera fans throughout Ireland and internationally.

"Over the years Bernadette’s wonderful voice graced many national events; it is difficult to imagine a formal State occasion without her magnificent contribution," he said.

"Over the last five decades, she has produced music of the highest quality, and she will be missed by all of her admirers, worldwide."

Minister for Arts Martin Cullen said the late Bernadette Greevy "decorated our lives with "her rare jewel of a voice".

“Bernadette’s numerous recitals in all the major capitals of the world brought great credit to her and to Ireland. Bernadette never disappointed. We were privileged to know her and even more privileged to hear her," he said.

Director of the Arts Council Mary Cloake said the council was "deeply saddened" at the death "one of Ireland’s truly celebrated international artists" and noted in particular her interpretation of Mahler.

"She will also be remembered for her contribution to the operatic life of this country, and in particular, the development of young Irish singers through the annual masterclass series she held in Dublin for over twenty years. We offer our sympathy to her family and friends.”

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said Ms Greevy was "a superlative talent, with an unmistakable voice and was a genuine star".

"I will always recall her performances when Pope John Paul II visited Ireland and at many national commemoration day ceremonies in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Her renditions of Amhrán na bhFiann on those occasions were unforgettable."