My Opera Experience
Born in Lancashire, this award-winning sopano is a graduate of the Royal College of Music and an ENO Harewood Artist. Her most recent roles include Musetta in Puccini’s La bohème for English National Opera at Alexandra Palace.
What was your first opera?
The first opera I saw was Opera North’s production of La bohème (The Bohemians, Puccini, 1896), directed by Phyllida Lloyd. The first opera I performed in was at school: The Little Sweep (1949) by Benjamin Britten. I loved it!
What was the last opera you saw and where?
The last opera I saw was Anthony Minghella’s production of Madame Butterfly (Puccini, 1904) at English National Opera.
What is your favourite opera and why?
This is impossible to answer as I love different operas for different reasons. Rather than name a favourite opera, I’ll mention one that I’m loving listening to at the moment: Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck, 1893). The music is so charming, the orchestration is incredible and the familiarity of the story is somewhat comforting, despite being pretty scary in parts!
I made my debut as Gretel for Grange Park Opera last year, and it was so hard not to cry at the end of Act 2 when the orchestra takes over from Hansel and Gretel once they sing the evening prayer. Utter magic!
How did you get into opera?
I always enjoyed performing – dancing, creating girl groups with my friends in the playground! But what really inspired my desire to go into opera was when I won a bursary through a local music festival to pay for singing lessons. I auditioned, under the advice of my music teacher, for the Junior Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). At the RNCM, I met the wonderful singer and teacher Sandra Dugdale who became a mentor to me and encouraged me to pursue a career in opera.
What opera would you recommend to a newcomer and why?
Any! Opera is exactly the same as other forms of music or art – there is such a variety out there. Go to a few different operas and see which ones you enjoy – you might love some for the music, others for the storyline or the production. There’s a lot happening on stage during an opera, and in the orchestra, so explore!