The career of Marjorie Lawrence is one of the great might-have-beens of operatic history. The saga of a young Australian woman who, in an astonishingly short period of time, became a leading singer first at the Paris Opéra and then at New York’s Metropolitan and who was poised to become the Met’s prima donna assoluta in the Wagnerian repertory when disaster struck, sounds like a script for the Hollywood weepie it eventually became. Although her career was spectacular and her talent indisputable – the renowned British critic Neville Cardus described her as ‘the finest musical artist ever to be born in Australia’ – her name seems to have faded from view. Now, in his comprehensive biography, Richard Davis redresses the balance.
Wotan’s Daughter: The Life of Marjorie Lawrence
by Richard Davis
Wakefield Press, $45 hb, 324 pp, 9781743051221
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