Born in England on June 13, 1963, Dame Sarah Patricia Connolly DBE is a mezzo-soprano. In addition to her more well-known baroque and classical roles, Connolly has performed works by Wagner and other 20th-century composers.
She was honoured for her musical contributions by being named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 New Year’s Honours and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours.
Dame Sarah Connolly, an Opera Singer, Worried that Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer Might Ruin Her Singing Voice
A prominent opera soprano decided to go public with her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment despite worrying that chemotherapy would cause her to lose her voice.
Mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly, 58, who was diagnosed in 2019, said that she received an “outpouring of love and affection” after opening up to her fellow artists about her ordeal. “People are pretty private about it,” she remarked. Yet here I am, thinking, “I am not ashamed of this; I am terrified.”
She described the effects of the chemo drugs as “terrifying,” saying, “At first I thought, ‘Oh Sarah, you’re being a big diva now, stop it and get over it. I remember thinking, “No, I am in actual pain here; this is dreadful.”
And yet, because of her “fighting spirit,” she sang a recital only after her first round of chemotherapy.
She shared with Lauren Laverne that she had been “punched hard in the gut” and was only able to sing at a 65% capacity. Before I continued, I ran my hands through my hair and a clump came out.
Don’t do that again, or you won’t have any energy for the second half, I warned myself.
For her desert island disc collection, Dame Sarah selected “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin and “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie.
Her breakthrough came in 1998 when she played Handel’s petulant monarch Xerxes in Nicholas Hytner’s English National Opera staging. Since then, she has been known as a singer of opera’s so-called “trouser” parts — women playing boys or men.
She has performed at the Met, the Opéra national de Paris, and the Teatro Real in Madrid, and has even sung Rule, Brittania! as a spoof of her male roles at the Metropolitan Opera. attend the 2009 Last Night of the Proms in full Admiral of the Fleet regalia.
Dame Sarah revealed in a statement that she would be taking a break from performing because she was diagnosed with breast cancer: “Last month, I had an unexpected birthday present, breast cancer.”
Like so many other women with this cancer, I will do my best to deal with whatever comes my way.
Thanks to the BBC Proms and the English National Opera for their generosity and flexibility; I hope to continue collaborating with both organisations in the foreseeable future.
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Irving is the Chief Editor at the Landscape Insight. He lives just outside of New York. His writings have also been featured in some very famous magazines. When he isn’t reading the source material for a piece or decompressing with a comfort horror movie, Irving is usually somewhere in his car.