South Shields opera singer’s final performance - at her own funeral

South Shields born opera singer Joan Carroll sang at her own funeral when recordings of her performing famous tracks were played.
South Shields born opera singer Joan Carroll sang at her own funeral when recordings of her performing famous tracks were played.

An opera singer from South Tyneside had one final aria to perform – when she sang at her own funeral.

Joan Carroll was a well-known voice in the borough, starring in many productions before going on to perform at famous venues such as the Royal Opera House, in London.

Joan was well respected by the opera world. She was only 4ft 11ins tall – but what a voice. She was a real talent.

Bill Briggs

She was a long-standing member of the South Shields Gilbert and Sullivan Society – alongside world-renowned opera singer Anne-Marie Owens – who recently returned to her hometown to star in the Customs House pantomime.

Joan sadly passed away, at the age of 60, after a 19-year battle with breast cancer.

But the soprano made one final vocal appearance for her loved ones, when recordings of her singing were played at her funeral.

Joan’s brother, Bill Briggs, said: “She recorded a CD with two songs played at her funeral.

“At the beginning of the service, it was her performance of One Fine Day from Madama Butterfly. As the curtains were closing, her recording of Doretta’s Dream from La Rondine was played.”

He added: “Doretta’s Dream was one of Joan’s favourites at venues around the country, but too emotional for funerals – but she picked it to be played on CD at her own.”

Joan, formerly named Briggs, lived in Marsden, South Shields, before marrying Patrick Carroll, and moving with him to Kent in 2006.

She endured a long 19-year battle against breast cancer, finding the last six months of her life particularly tough.

She passed away peacefully in a hospice, in Tunbridge Wells, on November 22.

Joan, whose mum Rose, 92, still lives in the town, was a highly-rated opera singer and appeared in The Phantom of the Opera, in London’s West End, as well as singing as a full-time chorister at the Royal Opera House up until her sad passing.

The famous venue dedicated the opening night of their most recent show, Eugene Onegin, to Joan.

Bill, a former compositor at the Shields Gazette, added: “Joan was well respected by the opera world.

“She was only 4ft 11ins tall – but what a voice. She was a real talent.

“She was a widow without children. Music was her life.

“At her funeral, about 130 people turned up. The Royal Opera House sent a bus full of performers and the choir almost lifted the roof off the crematorium chapel.”