Biography – Expanded

Una Barry has enjoyed a busy career down the years whereby her extensive repertoire as a true lyric soprano from the baroque right through to the present day, her outstanding musical ability, and her vocal versatility have enabled her to accept solo engagements and broadcasts all over Britain, Ireland and Continental Europe as well as in Australia, Finland, Hong Kong, New York and Kenya.

This lyric repertoire covers the operatic stage with her time at Kent Opera and Scottish Opera in roles such as The Governess in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, First Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Aminta in Mozart’s Il Rè Pastore and The Priestess in Gluck’s Iphigenie in Tauris at the Edinburgh International Festival as well as covers of more major roles. She also sang the lead role in Alison Cox’s The Time Killing and Brian Hughes’s Stars and Shadows in Manchester. She has also given many highly acclaimed and interesting song recital programmes, ranging from Purcell to Messiaen and to more contemporary music. But having retired from staged opera, it is now in oratorio and concert repertoire for which Una is now best known and continues to be in demand.

The Daily Telegraph wrote of her Manchester Midday Concert, “Una Barry possesses a strong, true lyric soprano voice which is the expression of a marked intelligence and a vivid response”. She has sung for Kings College, Cambridge in Bach’s St John Passion; with Pro Cantione Antiqua of London on numerous occasions as their guest soprano all over Continental Europe giving performances of baroque music in particular of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneus, The Fairy Queen, King Arthur and Handel’s Acis and Galatea, She also performed in Belgium at the Flanders Festival in Tongeren Basilica Concerts as soloist in Handel’s Athalia as well as Judas Maccabæus in German in Düsseldorf. In Switzerland she gave a series of opera and operetta concerts, and in Finland three critically acclaimed performances of Verdi’s Requiem.

Una sang with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in Elgar’s The Kingdom and an evening of Gilbert & Sullivan. In Chester Cathedral it was Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis where “her quality of tone resulted in a thrilling performance”. She also sang Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate, Poulenc’s Gloria, Beethoven’s Concert Aria: Ah! Perfido, and the first performance of Stuart Johnson’s Requiem for Darlington Choral Society. Una also sung Dvorak’s Stabat Mater and St Matthew Passion in Ilkley, Haydn’s The Seasons in Leighton Buzzard, Eton College and Peterborough, Bach’s Cantata 51: Jauchzet Gott, Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus and Bach’s Mass in B Minor for the Southport Bach Choir; Mozart’s Requiem and Haydn’s Nelson Mass in Formby, Mendelssohn’s Elijah in Chester and Glasgow Cathedrals as well as in York Minster, and in the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem. Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace and Rutter’s Mass of the Children were performed in Peterborough Cathedral with the Peterborough Choral Society.

There was a lunchtime recital of Strauss and Britten in New York as well as song recitals in Belgium, London and Colchester with her regular pianist John Gough. Most recently Una gave performances of Verdi’s Requiem in Glasgow, Hull, Chester Cathedral and Malvern Concert Hall, and then Rutter’s Requiem and Chilcott’s Requiem with the Hong Kong Choir and Chamber Orchestra in St John’s Cathedral where she also gave song recitals with David Knowles for the Red Square Gallery and two live radio interviews for RTHK’s Radio 3 and Radio 4. Una was the soprano soloist in Ely Cathedral in Elgar’s Coronation Ode in a concert to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. Most recently she sang Elgar’s The Apostles in St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, Langlais’ Missa in Simplicitate for opera singer and organ in Bradford Cathedral, and numerous performances around the country of Handel’s Messiah. She gave a recital of European Sacred Music for soprano and organ all over the country as well as Nairobi Cathedral, and in Rome and Modena. In Salzburg she did Chilcott’s Requiem, Mozart’s Solemn Vespers and Haydn’s Little Organ Mass. Then two performances of Hendrix Andriessen’s Miroir de Peine for soprano in both Bradford and Leeds Cathedral with Philip Sawyer and Benjamin Saunders respectively. Most recently she sang Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the Northampton Bach Choir and pianist David Owen Norris.

Una initially studied with Eileen Poulter, lead soprano of the Deller Consort, and then won a post-graduate scholarship to the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester to study with Ena Mitchell, Pamela Cook and Alexander Young. There were further valuable periods of study with some of the best and established teachers in London, Salzburg and Cologne and all through her career she received coaching from Paul Hamburger in London until his death in 2002. Regular visits to Bayreuth to study with Anna Reynolds and Jean Cox gave her the encouragement to try the more dramatic operatic repertoire of Beethoven, Verdi, Puccini and Wagner whilst keeping her usual lyric and oratorio repertoire. This enabled her to sing the part of Aida in a concert performance of Verdi’s Aida in London, directed by Victor Morris, formerly the Head of Music at English National Opera. She also had short periods of study with David Jones in New York and London, and now actively participates in his training courses and seminars for singing teachers. For twenty years Una studied with the celebrated mezzo Josephine Veasey until her retirement and a period of time with the soprano, Heather Harper, all of which was invaluable.

With moving to West Yorkshire in 2012, Una studied regularly with the retired international baritone, teacher and voice researcher, Neil Howlett, until his death in 2020 and who opened her eyes and voice even further. She teaches singing privately in both London and in Ilkley, and is also becoming increasingly known as an adjudicator and an examiner.

June 2020