A Quick Selfie Taken Just Before I Performed the Puccini Aria “Qunado M’En Vo” In A Concert On Wednesday Night.

Time flies so quickly here! It’s hard to keep track of what is accomplished per day let alone summarise a week! Hopefully I can reflect and provide a snippet of the activities that have occurred this week.

Hansel And Gretel

Hänsel and Grete

It has been such a pleasure working with David Gately on the character portrayal and staging of Gretel in Humperdinck’s “Hänsel and Gretel“. A very lively and energetic movement that includes dancing on tree stumps, sewing socks, teasing brothers, hiding from an angry mother, weaving a crown of flowers and much much more. I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy on a stage! I love it and I have learnt so much from this process. I have found that the most important thing that I’ve learnt is to always have your feet facing your focus, I sometimes sing at such peculiar angles and it’s as if my feet always want to face centre stage (whoopsie!) maybe it’s a dancers thing or perhaps I have rather Divaish feet! Haha :)   this has actually improved my control and my breath support and also allows me to be free to move at any moment I wish.


Die Zauberflöte – The Magic Flute

During this week I have also worked alongside a great cast under the direction of Ophelia Wolf and together we have staged the entirety of “Die Zauberflöte” by Mozart, which culminated with a smooth run last Friday. It is very exciting and I like the twists that she has made to the plot and how our personal lives from this modern era can affect a great libretto and form a new interpretation. I am a second Knabe in this piece and it is lots of fun, I get to be childish and have quite dramatic emotions from frantic and worried to cheeky and playful. However I am seeing that perhaps my cheerful manner is encouraging me to get cast as young child. But to be honest I don’t mind a bit as I’m having loads of fun!


Suor Angelica

The third opera that I am taking part in is “Suor Angelica” which has been fully staged by the fabulous Patrizia di Paola, whose exciting energy is both intoxicating and contagious! It makes for a brilliant opera which swings between tragic and comedic moments similar to the musical “Annie”. As part of my role as the Novice I get to play a pregnant nun. I’m quite enjoying my role and the fact I have to wear a big yellow belly which I can rub, I feel like I’m playing house! Haha.  But Mum and Dad don’t be worried I’m not broody! :)


We begin performances next week, so hopefully I will try to grab some pictures and possibly get a friend to tape some performances. All the best for the week ahead! Xxx


My Aida Adventure

July 19, 2015 — 46 Comments

I’m finishing off writing this post as I wait to catch my coach which leaves for Verona at 4:20 pm.  I am planning a wonderful adventure this evening, a visit to the Verona Opera Festival to watch the marvellous opera “Aida”.


The Aida Set From My Visit In 2010

This is a special trip for me as a few years ago I visited Verona for the first time and I went to the arena and I watched the stage hands prepare the set for Aida.  I have a vivid memory of a huge golden and blue sphinx head being lifted into position by a huge crane and I was so excited.


Down By The Stage – 2010

At the time I was just venturing into the world of opera and now I am so excited that I get the opportunity to go to watch the production. I wonder if the set will be similar or whether it is a completely different adaptation.


Outside The Arena – 2010


The View From Down By The Stage – 2010

We have just arrived at 8:40 pm in Verona as it took ages to get here :)
Here are a couple of pictures outside the arena.


Outside Waiting To Go In – 2015


Here’s My Ticket


Inside And Getting Ready For The Opera To Start

I have been so busy that I have not had time to write my own synopsis of the opera so I have borrowed the one below to give you a flavour of the story:

Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi

Aida, ACT 1
Outside of the royal palace near Memphis, Ramfis (Egypt’s high priest) informs Radames (a young warrior) that armies from Ethiopia are making their way towards the Nile valley.

Radames expresses his hope of being appointed the commander of Egypt’s army where he can lead his troops to victory, as well as rescue Aida, his Ethiopian lover captured by Egyptian troops. Unbeknownst to him, as well as the rest of Egypt, Aida is the daughter of Ethiopia’s king, Amonasro. Since her capture, Aida has served as slave to the Egyptian princess, Amneris. Amneris is in love Radames, but senses he is in love with another woman. It isn’t long before Amneris figures out who the mystery woman is when she sees the longing glances shared between Radames and Aida. Able to hide her jealousy, Amneris continues to keep Aida as her slave. The king of Egypt arrives and announces that Ramfis’ information was correct and that Ethiopian troops, lead by the King of Ethiopia himself, have already made their way into Thebes. The king appoints Radames as the leader of the army while simultaneously declaring war on Ethiopia. An overjoyed Radames makes his way to the temple to complete his coronation ritual.

Left alone in the hall, Aida becomes distraught as she is forced to choose between her lover and her father and country.

Aida, ACT 2

After their victorious battle, Radames and his troops are returning from Thebes. Inside Amneris’ chambers, she has her slaves entertain her in light of the battle. Doubting her suspicions of Aida and Radames, she decides to test Aida. She dismisses all of her slaves except for Aida. She tells Aida that Radames has died in battle. Aida breaks down and confesses her love for Radames, to which Amneris becomes furious and vows revenge.

Radames makes his triumphal return to Memphis as he and his troops march through the city. The captured Ethiopians follow. Aida rushes to her father, but he makes her promise not to reveal their true identities. The king of Egypt, so delighted with Radames performance, honors him by granting him anything he asks for. Amonasro declares that the King of Ethiopia has been killed, and asks the Egyptian king to set them free. The people of Egypt, however, chant for their death, and the King gives in to their desires. In order to save his lover’s life, he cashes in on the King’s generosity and asks the King to spare the lives of the Ethiopians. The King happily grants him his request and declares Radames his successor and future husband of Princess Amneris. Aida and her father remain in custody to prevent any Ethiopian revolt.

Aida, ACT 3

As preparations are made for the upcoming wedding between Radames and Amneris, Aida waits outside of the temple for Radames in an previously agreed upon spot. Aida’s father, Amonasro, pressures Aida to find out where the Egyptian army is kept. Feeling nostalgic for her homeland, she agrees to her fathers wishes. When Radames comes out of the temple to meet Aida, Amonrasro hides and eavesdrops on their conversation. Aida and Radames talk about their future lives together, and after Aida asks, he tells her where the army is located. Amonasro makes reveals himself and his identity just as Amneris and the high priest come out of the temple. When Aida and Amonasro escape, Aida pleads for Radames to follow them. Instead, Radames submits himself to Amneris and the priest as a traitor.


Aida, ACT 4

Frustrated with Radames, Amneris pleads with him to deny his accusations. Full of pride and love for his country, he does not. He accepts his punishment, but is happy to know that Aida and her father have escaped. This hurts Amneris even more so. She tells him that she will save him if he renounces his love for Aida, but again, he refuses. The high priest and his court condemn Radames to death by being buried alive. Amneris begs for their mercy, but they do not budge.

Radames is taken to the lowest level in the temple and is sealed away into a dark tomb. Moments after being locked away, he hears someone breathing in a dark corner; it is Aida. She confesses her love for him and has chosen to die with him. The two embrace as Amneris weeps several floors above them.



I have also added some pictures from our first our first performance last Wednesday ( 15th July ) as part of the Trentino Music Festival for Mezzano Romantica, it was a Broadway Gala held on the new stage in the square at Mezzano.

We had a tremendous audience and all the performers had a fabulous time. It was wonderful to work with such talented and lovely musicians and I even got the chance to get a little sassy on the dance floor during the performance of “America” from West Side Story.

For my duet I performed “All I Ask Of You” from the Phantom Of The Opera, with Piotr from Poland as Raoul and myself as Christine Daae.




Jessica Hurst and Me On Our First Day In Italy

Jessica Hurst and Me On Our First Day In Italy

Wow! What an incredible and busy week I have had in Italy whilst participating in the Music Academy International.


On The Balcony Of Our Apartment For Six.

I have attended and performed in many master classes, at one I received a great wealth of knowledge and advice from the amazing opera singer Deborah Voigt.  I learnt some great vocal technique tips from Jean-Michelle Charbonnet and I discovered the poise available in the legato line from Mitchell Piper and exercises in how to achieve this.

The Language Centre

The Language Centre

Before arriving here in Italy I had been selected by the tutors to perform in two operas “The Magic Flute” by Mozart, and “Suor Angelica” by Puccini.  So I was thrilled to be approached whilst studying here and asked to also learn the role of Gretel from “Hänsel and Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdinck and so I thought that if I work my little butt off I might get a chance of performing at least the first act :).  So you can guess what I’ll be doing in my free time!


Yesterday I was translating the score word for word over my first English Breakfast tea here in Italy, hehe!  It was certainly a treat to indulge myself in a home comfort whilst studying this beautiful music!


Blue Skies And Beautiful Views Very Inspirational

I will try to take lots of pictures of the rehearsal process as we begin staging, to be a part of the process of putting together an opera over a few weeks is an exciting challenge and one that I know will be so much fun as I have the pleasure to be working with amazing Staff who have incredible imaginations and enthusiastic students who have come here from all over the world to be part of this amazing opportunity.

Being here in Italy reminds me that it is good to be around people who motivate us to be better and help to bring out the best potential in all of us.


Out And About, Such A Beautiful Day

On Friday morning I went to visit my friend from school, Daniella Robinson who now runs her make up business from her home. I wanted to make sure that my make up for the Chief Constable’s Charity Ball would stand up to a full day, from the tech runs to the Charity Ball itself.



From there it was a dash over to the hair salon for an up-do :)



Then with hair and make-up complete it was time to drive in to Manchester for my sound check and rehearsal at the Hilton Hotel, which was Manchester’s first true Sky Scrapper.


View Of Manchester From The Hilton Hotel


The management of the technical aspects of the event were being handled by WRG with TechPro handling the audio/visual. It was fantastic to work with both companies who made me feel so welcome and helped me so much with the staging for my performance.



Following a quick snack and plenty of water it was time to get changed :)


Then down to the venue to wait for my cue.  I was due on at 20:30 pm, I waited with Russell Lomas who was accompanying me on piano and as we entered the room I felt so excited.  The audience was lovely and I ran through my 30 minute program and enjoyed every minute of it.


The Greater Manchester Police Band Whose Volunteers Make Such A Difference To The Local People By Taking Part In Many High Profile and Community Events

Then after we finished it was back up to the room to change into my “Miss Scarlett” dress for the remainder of the fund raising evening.  The Greater Manchester Police Band had a great set and we danced along, although I wished I’d got my jive dress on.


The event was a tremendous success for the charities involved, Retrak and the Greater Manchester High Sheriff’s Trust. A special thank you needs to go to Tracie Carmody who had organised the whole event on behalf of Sir Peter Fahy, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police.  There was a Cluedo game, raffle tickets, and a silent auction.  The work that Sir Peter and Tracie do in raising money for these charities is amazing and I feel so lucky to be a small part of this event.


Tracie Carmody and Me


At The End Of The Evening With Sir Peter Fahy, Chief Constable.





I was excited as the time approached for the evening’s performance, outside the church I could hear the gentle chatter of the audience as they started to arrive on what was a beautiful summer evening.

The lights dimmed and then the performance began.  It was a lovely venue to perform in and to see such a large audience made the evening even more special.

The instrumental accompaniment was provided by members of the Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tom Newall and the beautiful melodies composed by Puccini and played by these gifted musicians filled the evening air.


The evening progressed and the cast brought the characters to life as the story of Madama Butterfly unfolded to the delight of an enthusiastic audience.


Following the dramatic final scene as Butterfly lay dying and Sharpless carried off Butterfly’s child the lights dimmed and audience rose to show their appreciation.  It was a wonderful evening and Bowdon Festival should be proud of their achievement in producing this beautiful opera and I was thrilled to be a part of it.


Me With Jayne Wilson After The Performance

Then this afternoon I was back on the train to Glasgow to spend a few days there before travelling back to Manchester for the Greater Manchester Chief Constable’s Charity Ball on Friday 3rd July.  Then on Sunday I am off to Italy for 5 weeks on an opera summer school.  The school is to take place in a small town called Fiera di Primiero in Trentino region of Italy.


Fiera di Primiero, Italy

I will be with a group of students that have been selected from all over the world to take part in a series of workshops and master-classes culminating with the performances of several operas during the local music festival.  I hope to build on my experiences from this year and to both develop existing skills and learn new ones.

Here Comes Summer

June 21, 2015 — 58 Comments

My third year at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is over, it’s gone so fast.  This week I had the pleasure of being invited to take part in the ‘Young Classical Artists Summer School’ organised by Fife Youth Arts Hub. This was the first of its kind and I was very excited to be working on this pilot project.


The week was led by professional artists and teachers: Judith Howarth, Gordon Wilson and Frances McCafferty, who were fabulous and very informative to work with. The rehearsals took place in the very friendly Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy. It was here that I received one-to-one coaching sessions with Judith daily and and group stage theatre workshops with Tina West, Acting and Performing Fife college and Tommy Small, BBC radio 2 Artist in Residence.

We also had the opportunity to signup to work with three wonderful repetiteurs Geoffrey Tanti, Beth Jerem and Alan Gibson. I had the pleasure to work with all three and they scrutinized my Italian pronunciation and musicality. Hard work but very fulfilling. Over the course of the five days I worked on a few Mozart arias and two scenes: one from Carmen and the other from La Traviata. For me, I found getting my mouth and tongue around the Italian words in the fast recit to be quite tricky, but the coaches were on hand to help break this challenge into easier bite-size tasks. I’ve learnt from their guidance; most importantly that something that seems quite daunting at first can in fact be approachable and achievable with the right mindset, hard-work, manageable goals and encouragement.

On Wednesday we went to Saint Andrews University and I performed in the masterclass along with fellow young artists from the workshop and three artists from Byre Opera who were performing that evening in a production of Gluck’s “Iphigenie In Taurus”. It was brilliant to observe singers in action as I could see elements of the advice I’d been given during sessions, such as whether I believed the acting and the decisions behind the intentions and whether this aided the progression of the story.


I believe I have learnt a great deal from this course, and I hope it can turn into an annual event in which singers can gain experience of performance and improve their craft.

Just to conclude, as its Father’s Day I would love to send some kisses and cuddles to my Dad, and thank him for his unwavering support and guidance as I go on this journey to explore classical singing. He is my rock and similar to the advice Judith gave me in one of my singing lessons he always told me to be courageous, and to act on something even if you have little element of fear.


Happy Sunday! XX. Here comes the summer :) :) :)

Madama Butterfly

June 14, 2015 — 49 Comments

I’m currently working on the score for the chorus of Madama Butterfly for a one night only production at the end of the month.  I have been asked to play the character La Zia and understudy for the role of Kate by my first classical singing Teacher, Jayne Wilson.



I last performed with Jayne back in November 2013 when I was asked to take part in a fund raiser for the Bowdon Youth festival hosted by Edwina Currie, who commented in the Messenger newspaper :

There were also two stunning solos by soprano Charlotte Hoather and a duet with Jayne Wilson, artistic director of Bowdon Festival.

Jayne previously taught Charlotte. Edwina Currie said: “It was a pleasure for all of us – and especially to hear Jayne Wilson’s magnificent duet with Charlotte, after all the praises we’ve heard sung about her. That can’t be a one-off, we have to hear that again”.

Jayne is to play the role of Madama Butterfly in the opera which is to be performed at St Mary’s Church in Bowdon on the 27th June at 7:30 pm.


St Mary’s Church, Bowdon © Copyright David Dixon

This beautiful opera by Giacomo Puccini ( 1858 – 1924 ) is based on a short novel John Luther Long.  The story takes us to Japan at the turn of the last century.


Act 1

As the opera opens we finds ourselves in Nagasaki, Japan.  The year is 1904 and an American naval officer Benjamin Pinkerton seeks the help of a local marriage broker named Goro to locate a house to lease, a lease he was told would come with a pretty young Japanese wife.  Goro assured Pinkerton not to worry as both the lease on the house and the arranged marriage could be ended with just a month’s notice.

This suited the Naval officer as he could not wait to return home to America to marry a proper American wife. However the young Japanese girl had other ideas, seeing the arrangement as far more than a passing fancy.  In her excitement to be the best possible wife she converted to Christianity in a bid to please her new American husband to be.

Her name was CioCio-San which is the Japanese word for “Butterfly” and she was only 15 years of age. She was so happy as the date of the marriage ceremony approached, which was to take place in the house that Goro had found for them both to live in.  However her happiness is short lived as her Uncle, the Bonze, arrives at the house to condemn her religious conversion.  Her family turn their backs on her leaving the poor young girl devastated and ostracised. Her despair is broken as she sings a love duet with her new Husband in the home they are to live in.


Act 2

Three years have past and we find Butterfly in the house waiting for Pinkerton’s return.  He had left her shortly after their marriage returning to America. Though Butterfly’s maid Suzuki tries to convince her that her husband will not be returning the advice falls on deaf ears.  Since Pinkerton’s departure Goro has tried unsuccessfully to persuade Butterfly to take a new husband. Butterfly is utterly convinced that one day her husband, Pinkerton will return and along with their child they will all be a family again.

The American Consul, Sharpless arrives at the house with a letter from Pinkerton along with the news that he is to return to Japan. But seeing her and knowing the letter’s contents he cannot bring himself to read it to her.  He beseeches her to marry one of her suitors, Prince Yamadori but Butterfly will not consider it at all.  She instead reveals to Sharpless that before Pinkerton left she had become pregnant and proudly shows her son to him.  She explains that she called her son “Trouble” who upon Pinkerton’s return she will rename “Joy”.  She pleads with Sharpless to tell Pinkerton of their beautiful son and he promises to tell him about the child.

As Pinkerton’s ship docks in the harbour Butterfly decorates the house displaying her overwhelming joy at the return of her husband.  Through the night she waits for Pinkerton to return to her and their son.


Act 3

The morning arrives and Suzuki wakes as we see Butterfly finally succumbs to her exhaustion and falls asleep.  Sharpless, Pinkerton and his new American wife Kate arrive at the house.  Pinkerton has persuaded Kate to take in the child and raise it as their own but as they approach the house he sees the decorations and cannot face meeting Butterfly, he acknowledges his cowardice and leaves everyone to sort out the mess that he had created.  Butterfly finally sees the helplessness of her situation and reluctantly agrees to give up her child, but only if Pinkerton comes to collect their son himself.  The final scene is set Pinkerton is contacted and agrees to return to meet with Butterfly.  Butterfly in turn prepares her son to meet his father for the first time and readies him to leave to live with him. The tension builds as we see everything unfold before our eyes………


But if you want to know how it ends you will have to go and watch it :)