The highly successful soprano Lesley Garrett has led a career embracing not just opera and other serious music, but light classics, Broadway fare, and television and radio appearances (as singer and host), making her a quite familiar figure in her homeland and placing her among the most prominent crossover artists from England. Her repertory is amazingly broad, taking in operas by Handel, Mozart, Offenbach, Chabrier, Verdi, and Janácek, as well as numbers from Bernstein's West Side Story, Styne's Funny Girl, Kander's Cabaret, Berlin's Puttin' on the Ritz, and movie hits by Henry Mancini, Harold Arlen, and many others. She has become a bona fide television star in England, having hosted her own programs, largely promoting opera, Viva la Diva and Lesley Garrett -- Tonight. Moreover, she has regularly appeared on radio and other television shows, including on the BBC program Strictly Come Dancing (2004), wherein she partnered with ballroom dancer Anton du Beke and finished a very respectable third. Beside the beauty of tone in her voice, Garrett is known for her precise diction and extraordinary acting skills. She has appeared on numerous recordings -- many in DVD release -- on a variety of labels, including Kultur Video, Chandos, EMI, RCA, and many others.
Garrett was born on April 10, 1955, in the village of Thorne, South Yorkshire, England. She graduated from London's Royal Academy of Music in 1979 and immediately went on to win the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Prize. She debuted at the 1980 Wexford Festival in Mozart's singspiel Zaide.
After further successful appearances at Opera North and with the Glyndebourne Touring Opera, she joined the English National Opera (1984) and became the company's principal soprano, distinguishing herself over the next two decades in a variety of Mozart roles, including Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and Despina (Così fan tutte), as well as in a mixture of others: Dalinda from Handel's Ariodante and her widely acclaimed Rosina from the 1998 production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville.
As her fame grew, Garrett's television and radio appearances became more frequent. Along with the aforementioned BBC shows, she made appearances on the popular genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are in 2004, hosted the ITV production of the Classical BRIT Awards (2005), and appeared regularly as a judge on the Comic Relief Does Fame Academy (2007). Among Garrett's later recordings is her 2007 Kultur Video release Music From the Movies.