Rae Woodland was born in Nottingham, England in 1922. Her début was at Sadler’s Wells as Queen of the Night. Beecham invited her to reprise the rôle at Glyndebourne and engagements followed in many European festivals. Her début at Covent Garden was in Sonnambula with Sutherland and Pavarotti (she remains the only English soprano to have shared this stage with him). Britten selected her for the English Opera Group’s tour of Russia and she sang many rôles for him subsequently. Woodland also created rôles for Maw, Einem and Bliss: Angels of the Mind was written for her. She was a firm favourite with the BBC, performing in Proms and in innumerable, popular, live broadcasts, such as Friday Night is Music Night. She retired from public performance in 1984 and was invited to teach at the Britten-Pears School and at the Royal Academy of Music. She remains in demand as a vocal coach and judge.