Lillian Watson

Lillian Watson

Royal Academy OperaVocal



Lillian Watson joined the Academy’s vocal teaching staff in September 2007. She is considered an exceptional coloratura soprano. Her astonishing vocal agility has led to worldwide concert and opera engagements in repertory ranging from Mozart to Strauss and Britten.

Lillian Watson is internationally well known as Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail for which she has been acclaimed at Glyndebourne, Covent Garden, Hamburg and at the Salzburg Festival. She has also recorded the role with Nikolaus Harnoncourt for Teldec and appeared in three different television broadcasts of the opera including Glyndebourne, Salzburg and Covent Garden under Sir Georg Solti.

Her other interpretations include the title role in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen which she has performed and recorded for EMI under Simon Rattle; Despina in Cosi fan tutte which she has sung in Vienna, at Glyndebourne, Aix and at Covent Garden; and both Ismène and Aspasia in Mitridate which she has sung in Venice, Paris and London. She is a great interpreter of Richard Strauss’ demanding soprano repertory and her successes have included Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier under Jeffrey Tate.

At Covent Garden she has been acclaimed for twenty different roles in regular guest appearances over thirty years including Oscar to Luciano Pavarotti’s King Gustavus in Un ballo in Maschera, Bella in Tippett’s Midsummer Marriage, Tytania, Adele, Sophie, Constance, Fiakermilli, Valencienne, Ismène and Aspasia. 

She has sung under a generation of conductors: Armstrong, Bedford, Boulez, Brydon, Conlon, Davis, Davies, Dohnanyi, Elder, Fischers, Glover, Groves, Haitink, Harnoncourt, Hickox, Janowsky, Leinsdorf, Leppard, Lockhart, Levine, Maag, Maazel, Mackerras, Pritchard, Rattle, Sawallisch, Stein, Solti and Tate. 

Equally she has worked with leading Directors: Besch, Bryden, Carsen, Copley, Cox, Curran, Everding, Friedrich, Graham, Hall, Miller, Moshinsky, Nunn, Pizzi, Ponnelle, Pountney, Renshaw, Vick, Schaaf and Wood. 

Her reputation in performance is matched by the demands of being one of Britain’s most sought-after vocal teachers. She has held vocal professorships at both the Royal College and Royal Academy of Music and privately she attracts established singers from around the world. Her work also includes being guest teacher at Summer Festivals such as Ravinia in Chicago and she teaches on the young artists’ programme at Frankfurt Opera. 

In 2012 Lillian was awarded an Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music.