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Noel Mangin

Last Modified: 23-6-2017 15:14

b. Wellington 31 Dec. 1931 He first appeared as a boy soprano at the Cathedral Church of St Paul. The family moved to a Blenheim dairy farm in 1940. Noel sang solos at church and concerts. The Operatic Society built special sequences for him. He broadcast from 2YA, Wellington. Noel's first vocal instruction was from Walter Randal, organist at Nativity Church. More serious studies followed with Sister Mary Mercedes at Maxwell Road convent. He won many competitions in Wellington. Lavinia Humphries, in charge of music at the intermediate department of Marlborough College, gave him much encouragement. However, it was not until he heard a touring Italian opera company he dropped the idea of becoming a vet and decided on opera as a career.

He went to Dunedin to study drama, languages and singing, the latter under Ernest Drake. To his distress his voice started changing from tenor to baritone about 1955. He sang in various local operas. John Hopkins, the new conductor of the National Orchestra, told him he was really a bass. By the time he had finished adjusting his technique again he had a 3 octave range and was able to deal with dramatic bass, buffo, and baritone roles. In 1961 he set off for Paris to study with Dominique Modesti. Mangin became a frequent performer with the Sadlers Wells Company in London. He was widely considered a born Osmin (Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail- Mozart). He was a great comic actor, 1.9m tall and 124kg and was Europe's leading emergency bass, able to learn or revise a role in an amazingly short time. Scathing of European stardom where because of the fees charged by superstars, operas were underrehearsed, he once said 'Some of the world's greatest opera houses put on some of the world's worst operas."

From 1977 he preferred to work as a team member in Australia. His last performance in Blenheim was in Marlborough Girls' College Hall ( Blenheim had neither town hall nor theatre at the time.) in when he sang with the NZBC Symphony Orchestra. His friend, pianist George Simpson had just died at an early age, prompting a moving rendition of 'Death, where is thy sting?' from 'The Messiah".

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