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Joan Cross (7 September 1900 – 12 December 1993) was an English soprano, closely associated with the operas of Benjamin Britten. She also sang in the Italian and German operatic repertoires. She later became a musical administrator, taking on the direction of the Sadler's Wells Opera Company.
Cross was born in London. She attended St Paul's Girls' School, where her music teacher was the composer Gustav Holst, and studied singing at the Trinity College of Music. In 1923, she joined the chorus of the Vic-Wells opera company at the Old Vic, later taking on a wide range of solo soprano roles for the Sadler's Wells company and a few at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Her Covent Garden performances included Mimi in La Bohème and Desdemona (to Lauritz Melchior's Otello) in 1934.
During this period she also became a noted Marschallin, Sieglinde and Brünnhilde, Elisabeth, Elsa, Madame Butterfly, Aida, Donna Anna and Tatiana.
Cross undertook the direction of Sadler's Wells Opera Company in the Second World War. Sadler's Wells had been forced to convert to a touring company because its theatre was requisitioned by the government for war-related purposes. The theatre reopened on 7 June 1945 with the première of Britten's Peter Grimes, in which work Cross created the leading female role of Ellen Orford.
The other Britten roles that she created were:
In the series of Decca recordings of his operas Britten conducted, Cross appeared only in the 1955 mono recording of The Turn of the Screw, the other operas being recorded after her retirement from singing—namely Peter Grimes in 1958, Albert Herring in 1964 and The Rape of Lucretia in 1970. (Gloriana was not commercially recorded until 1992, when Cross was aged 92.) However, archival recordings of her performances as Ellen Orford and the Female Chorus became available in the 1990s.