|Year of Birth:||1932|
|Year of Death:||2009|
Dame Isoleen Heather Begg DNZM OBE (1 December 1932 – 12 May 2009) was a New Zealand-born operatic mezzo-soprano who spent most of her career in the United Kingdom and Australia. She was renowned in roles such as the title role in Bizet's Carmen, Amneris in Verdi's Aida and in lighter operas such as The Gondoliers. She appeared alongside Dame Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Beverly Sills, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Plácido Domingo, Montserrat Caballé, Dame Janet Baker, José Carreras, Dame Malvina Major, Sir Donald McIntyre and many other prominent singers. Her recording with Glenys Fowles of the "Flower Duet" from Delibes's Lakmé has become famous.
Born in Nelson, New Zealand in 1932, Begg studied in Auckland with Sister Mary Leo and at the New South Wales State Conservatorium, during which time she won the 1955 Sydney Sun Aria contest. She was engaged as a principal mezzo-soprano with the National Opera of Australia from 1954-56. Her professional debut was as Azucena in Verdi's Il trovatore.
She went to London in 1957 to attend the UK's National School of Opera on a musical scholarship. Between 1959-62 she appeared with the Carl Rosa Opera Company, the New Opera Company, the Royal Opera and the English Opera Group in a wide variety of roles. In 1959 she took part in the New Zealand Music Society's concert at the Wigmore Hall, with a performance of Hindemith's The Four Temperaments; the following year Sadler's Wells offered her the part of "Goddess Juno" in Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld, where she discovered she had a talent for comic opera. She returned to New Zealand in 1964 to sing with the New Zealand Opera Company until 1966, but still made guest appearances at Bordeaux, Chicago and elsewhere.