Anne Free­man

Dra­matic so­prano and im­pre­sario who brought opera to lo­cal au­di­ences

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

BEST KNOWN as a dra­matic so­prano, Anne Free­man, who has died of can­cer, aged 72, only dis­cov­ered her pas­sion for singing and opera half way through her life. Born in Lon­don 10 days be­fore the end of the Sec­ond World War, Anne em­i­grated to Aus­tralia with her fam­ily as a young child for a short pe­riod be­fore they re­turned to Lon­don and set­tled in Stan­more, her par­ents be­com­ing founder mem­bers of Stan­more and Can­nons Park United Sy­n­a­gogue. Anne, who went to North Lon­don Col­le­giate School and then to Bed­ford Col­lege where she ac­quired a de­gree in English, was in­volved in start­ing a B’nei Akiva group at the sy­n­a­gogue.

In 1968, a year af­ter grad­u­at­ing, Anne went to Is­rael to do a World Union of Jewish Stu­dents post­grad­u­ate year pro­gramme and stayed for three years, work­ing as edi­tor of the mag­a­zines, Sco­pus and Chris­tian News from Is­rael. On her re­turn in 1971, she be­came as­sis­tant edi­tor on the aca­demic jour­nal Min­erva and then project of­fi­cer for a pro­gramme which de­vel­oped ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als on Jewish top­ics for youth and com­mu­nity work­ers, at the same time study­ing psy­chother­apy to help her in the work.

In 1974 she started her ca­reer as an in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer for ma­jor ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies, do­ing desk re­search on a va­ri­ety of top­ics, in­clud­ing the rel­a­tive size of the ears of African and In­dian ele­phants, and fi­nally be­came Head of In­for­ma­tion, Europe, for the global mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany Y& R (Young & Ru­bi­cam), which she left in 1988 due to ill health.

In the mean­time, she had taken up opera singing, ini­tially at Opera In­te­gra, a semi-pro­fes­sional group founded by her first singing teacher, Brian Gal­loway. At first Gal­loway had cat­e­gorised her as a mezzo so­prano, but a friend from the opera group later heard her sing a so­prano aria, af­ter which she took on so­prano roles, while still singing the mezzo reper­toire with In­te­gra, no­tably as sec­ond lady in The Magic Flute.

Anne later changed her teacher and she was en­cour­aged to con­cen­trate on the dra­matic so­prano reper­toire. She per­formed as a pro­fes­sional so­prano in sev­eral con­certs and in en­gage­ments for The Ev­er­green Singers and fi­nally re­ceived her Eq­uity card in 1991. She moved away from Opera In­te­gra and per­formed sev­eral times for The City Lit Opera, in­clud­ing the role of first lady in The Magic Flute. In 1995 she launched her own com­pany, Cap­i­tal Opera, which spe­cialised in con­cert per­for­mances of opera. Among the lo­ca­tions where she per­formed con­certs three or four times a year were Laud­erdale House in High­gate and the St John’s Wood Sy­n­a­gogue. Th­ese con­certs were very of­ten in aid of char­i­ties, in­clud­ing Macmil­lan Can­cer Care, Age Con­cern, St John’s Hos­pice, Jewish Care and The Stern­berg Cen­tre. She not only do­nated all the pro­ceeds but also paid all the costs of the con­certs and re­hearsals her­self.

She took a great in­ter­est in lit­er­a­ture and was a mem­ber of a book group which started in the late 1990s and which she chaired from 2005 till 2011. Like other mem­bers, she also gave pre­sen­ta­tions to the group.

Apart from her fam­ily she is mourned by her many friends. She was de­voted to her nieces, Zara and Kezia, and her nephew, Joel. She also took an in­ter­est in her ex­tended fam­ily, the de­scen­dants of her ma­ter­nal grand­mother’s sib­lings. Over­all, she had a dif­fi­cult life which she con­fronted with a de­ter­mi­na­tion to fo­cus on the pos­i­tive. She is sur­vived by her brothers Si­mon and Jeremy.

EMMA KLEIN

Anne Free­man: born April 27, 1945.

Died June 14, 2017

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