Mina Foley, one of New Zealand's greatest sopranos and the trailblazer of stars trained by acclaimed singing teacher Dame Sister Mary Leo, died yesterday in Auckland after a long illness. She was 77.
Mina Foley shot to fame in the 1950s, winning local and international praise for the beauty of her voice and her technique. Some called it "the voice of the century".
She travelled to Europe for studies in England and Italy but was forced to return to New Zealand in 1952 for health reasons.
In 1956 she went to the United States for a study trip. She returned home the following year and continued to sing until health problems caused her to give up in 1961.
She did not sing again on stage until 1979, when one reviewer said "the crystal-clear, bell-like top was still there". Ill-health forced her to retire soon after.
Other pupils of Dame Sister Mary Leo to follow in Mina Foley's footsteps were Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major and Heather Begg.
Opera singer Donald Munro said Mina Foley had the "kind of singing that wrings one's heart".
Singer and entertainer Max Cryer said Mina Foley's ill-health was a great misfortune to music-lovers.