The Greek soprano Arda Mandikian was born in Smyrna (then part of Greece, now in Turkey) in 1924. She studied at the Athens Conservatory with soprano Elvira de Hildalgo (who also taught Maria Callas) and the mezzo Alexandra Trianti (1901-1977). She made her début aged fifteen in a students’ concert in February 1940 singing the duet “Mira, O Norma” from Bellini’s Norma with Callas. She remained in Greece until 1948 before coming to Britain and making her stage début in the title role of Egon Wellesz’s Incognita in Oxford.
She appeared regularly at the Aldeburgh Festival during the 1950s and 1960s, and created the part of Miss Jessel in Britten’s Turn of the Screw in September 1954 in Venice, repeated the part in the British première the following month in addition to taking part in the subsequent recording in January 1955. She first appeared at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden in Britten’s Peter Grimes in December 1953 and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Le Coq d’or the following year. She sang regularly at the Proms and widely in Europe.