Born: August 13, 1942
English soprano Sheila Armstrong primarily made her name in her own country, but mainly with work by Italians. Her specialties were Rossini and Donizetti, as well as Mozart. She was more versatile than that, though, within a particular stylistic range. Armstrong found success in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas (in which she made her Glyndebourne Festival debut in 1966) and Beethoven's Fidelio (her Covent Garden debut in 1973), and recorded English music, especially that of Vaughan Williams and Britten. She also toured Europe, North America, and Asia as a concert singer. Armstrong studied at London's Royal Academy of Music, and won the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Scholarship in 1965. She made her operatic debut that year as Despina in Mozart's Così fan tutte at London's Sadler's Wells Theatre. She retired in 1993 at the fairly early age of 51. Unfortunately, technical concerns sabotaged her farewell. At a televised concert marking the 900th anniversary of the founding of Durham Cathedral, the TV crew prohibited the use of microphones for amplification in the cathedral, claiming that they would block the cameras' sight lines. As a result, many members of the audience couldn't hear Armstrong clearly, and walked out in frustration.