Archives For Opera Singer

My New Website Is Ready

February 26, 2017 — 69 Comments

This weekend I decided quite on the spur of the moment to pack up a weekend bag and travel home to see my parents. I had quite a bit of work to complete on my website, and I knew that my Mum and Dad could help me with it, so Friday night after lessons I virtually ran down to the underground station and then fought my way through the rush hour commuters, wheelie bag in hand. The train that I had booked was due to leave at 17:07 and I arrived on the platform at 17:05, just enough time to jump on the nearest carriage before the train moved off from the platform, that was too close a call even for me. I found my seat and settled down for the journey home.

It was great to see my parents at the station, and we had a lovely evening relaxing and sorting out images, text and setting the links for my website update. Having talked it through with my Dad, he suggested rather than moving my blog over to my website that I should just change the links in the menu. Which gives the impression that the site is all in one place but saves me possibly losing all my page links and archives. When I get the time to check out the process a little more, I may eventually move the blog but for now, let me know what you think. You can get through to my website using the Home Button on the menu on my blog as the page selections have been re-mapped 🙂

Anyway, enough of the technical stuff and on to the rest of my weekend. My younger Brother, Thomas was competing in a National Inter-Varsity dance competition in Blackpool. It is probably the biggest event in his competition calendar, and as my Mum and Dad were traveling up to watch him, it was a great opportunity for me to tag along, show my support for him and have a little catch-up.

We all jumped in the car and made the hour and a half journey North from my parent’s house to Blackpool on the Fylde coast in Lancashire. When we were small we used to travel up to Blackpool quite often, whether it was to visit relatives, go for a walk along the promenade, make sand castles on the beach, fly our kites or go to the Pleasure Beach, we always had a very good time. I felt a little nostalgic as we drove into the Town and I could see Blackpool Tower up ahead. The Town has changed from what I remember, the number of families taking holidays there has dropped with the advent of cheap air travel and guaranteed sunshine which has led to an unfortunate decline for the town. But the friendliness of the people is still there in abundance, and once you are in Blackpool, you don’t let a little thing like strong winds and a bit of rain stop your enjoyment.

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Blackpool Tower

We parked up and made our way over to The Winter Gardens, in its heyday this was the entertainment hub of the North West with many West End shows making their way there. The building is just as grand now as it ever was and the Theatre looked amazing. The Ballroom where Tom was dancing was huge, and after we had wished him luck, we made our way to the viewing gallery and settled in for the end of the morning session. In the morning, Tom was competing in the Ballroom novice two-dance and out of 170 couples who entered he came 19th which was an excellent achievement.

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Tom and his partner Natalie

During the lunch time break, we walked down to the seafront to buy some chunky chips with salt and vinegar, an absolute must as you walk along the windy promenade. It would have been perfect, but a cheeky little seagull decided to air bomb us and left a lovely little present in our chip tray boohoo 😦  I then went and bought some Blackpool rock (a hard candy dentists hate if you overdo it) for my friends at College, another tradition that you just have to share while you are visiting the Town.

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Feeling windblown and refreshed in the sea air we made our way back to watch Tom in the afternoon session. He was competing in the Latin novice two-dance but unfortunately this time he only got as far as the second round, but I thought he was amazing and it made me want to take up my Latin and Ballroom again. There are just not enough hours in the day 🙂  The Glasgow University team that he dances for all danced fabulously. Saulius and his partner Heather came 3rd in the ex-student advanced 5 dance ballroom and 5th in the Latin ex-student advanced 5 dance.

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Saulius, Thomas, Heather, Natalie, Hana, Antonio, Ryan and Anna

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Anna, Ryan, Antonio, Hana, Natalie, Thomas, Heather and Saulius

This morning I spent some time in my Mum’s craft room making some Thank You and Birthday cards to replenish my stock, and after a lovely weekend visit I traveled back down to London and feel energized for the week ahead.

An Evening Of Song

June 19, 2016 — 40 Comments

It is good to be back home for a few weeks whilst I prepare for Opera Britain’s production of ‘Don Giovanni’ in Bowdon, Cheshire. Especially as its Father’s Day and I got to spend some time today in the middle of a very busy schedule with my parents. There will be two performances of the opera as it is double cast, I will be performing the role of Zerlina on Saturday the 25th June in Bowdon alongside Matthew Mannion as Masetto and Niamh St John and Jakob Mahase will perform the same roles in Withington, Manchester on Sunday the 26th June.

The Cast Of Don Giovanni

Jakob Mahase, Matthew Mannion, Me and Niamh St John

The rehearsals are well underway and it has been great to meet up with old friends and make some new ones. Many of the cast are from DIT ( the Dublin Conservatoire ) and rehearsing with them is great fun .

It is wonderful to see the staging coming together under the watchful eye of Conleth Stanley and get a fabulous sense of the musicality of the production carefully conducted by Tom Newall.

As usual a big thank you to Jayne who is busy organising everything for us all.

Last night along with many other willing performers we took part in a Gala Evening of song to help raise money for the Company so that they can continue with the amazing work they do.

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The Performers From The Opera Gala 18th June 2016

If any of you are in the area and can come along to support us we would love to see you there 🙂

Don Giovanni

If you want to check out the story of Don Giovanni you can get a flavour of it HERE

I’ve been friends with Karen Gadient on our blogs for several years now and it was wonderful to meet up with Karen and her husband David during their touring holiday of Scotland  whilst they were in Glasgow.  She is just as lovely in real life as she is on her fabulous art blog check it out HERE.

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David and Karen Gadient with Me In The Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow

This week we have celebrated some wonderful anniversaries. On Thursday 21st, celebrations took place for the Queen’s 90th Birthday and on St. George’s Day (Saturday 23rd) I had the pleasure to celebrate the anniversary of the 100th Alderley Edge Music Festival by performing in their fabulous gala concert.

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It was a wonderful event and celebrated the hard work and the success of the festival over the years and took place in the newly renovated Festival Hall. The hall was fantastically decorated with red, white and blue balloons and the stage had a star-lit back curtain which provided a beautiful setting for the concert and helped create a fabulous atmosphere! The full-house audience were neatly sat in lines of long tables that reached the length of the hall, ornamented with tremendous hors d’oeuvres and little British flags for everyone. The event was organised by the very talented Anna Meadmore who also compared the evening with her witty and reminiscent introductions. It was quite a party atmosphere!

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Natasha Agarwal and Me

The performers were from across the disciplines of music, speech and drama and showcased some of the talented individuals that participated in the festivals over the years and who have gone on to study or work professionally in their chosen fields. It was wonderful to see people that I watched when I was younger grow into very talented young men and women. It was lovely be reunited with the fabulous volunteers without whom the festival couldn’t take place and who were still so enthusiastic about the event, not forgetting the wonderful accompanists who were able to take centre stage for a change with two pieces for eight hands. I was also able meet some new faces who’s careers are beginning to take off. I wish everyone the best of luck with their future successes.

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Matthew Thistleton and Me

I had the pleasure of performing with Matthew Thistleton “La Ci Darem La Mano” from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”. We both arrived at the event without previously ever meeting and we only had a 20 minute slot to spontaneously create the romantic and cheeky staging that we devised between us in a short rehearsal.  It was wonderful to perform alongside him as he was so easy to work with and gave me lots of actions to react to, especially when he dropped to one knee and grabbed me at my waist! I hope we can share the stage again in the future.

The whole evening went tremendously well and I wish the festival another 100 successful years as I have many fond memories of entering numerous classes, photocopying and sellotaping reams of music scores for the accompanists, running from room to room (and even building to building!) singing my heart out and enjoying picnics in the middle of it all. But mostly I will be thankful for the musical lessons it taught me like how to pick yourself up after mistakes, gave advice on what to work on and how to deal with losses, how to work with accompanists and give your tempi and most importantly the friendships made along the way!

I would definitely recommend anyone interested in singing, instrumental playing or acting to look at the federation of music festivals and consider applying!

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Performers:
Adam Slater – Clarinet
Sophie Roberts – Special Composition
Oliver Rushton – Speech and Drama
Rosie Lomas – Soprano
Simeon Evans – Saxophone
Charlotte Deams – Speech and Drama
Charlotte Heaven – Cornet
Natasha Agarwal – Soprano
David Schofield – Piano
Marie Dixon – Music Hall
Dan Parr – Speech and Drama
Paul Exton McGuiness – Trombone
Helen Meadmore – Speech and Drama
Laurence Jeffcoate – Tenor
Emma Rushworth – Violin
Charlotte Hoather – Soprano
Matthew Thistleton – Bass
William Jeys – Trumpet

The Accompanists:
Tim Kennedy
Catherine Hall Smith
Kathleen Hesford
Stewart Death

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Me, Matt and Tom with our Pepa and Mema

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Me with my Mema

Sadly this week I also lost my Mema (Grandma), a loving woman whose life we will continue to celebrate through the memories that we have of her. Last night I dedicated my performance to her and I chose to sing in red dress as it was her favourite colour and though she will be missed it is comforting to know that I have another angel in heaven watching over me. God Bless Mema.

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On Thursday alongside my fellow 4th year undergraduate students we performed in a scene from “Cosi fan Tutte”.  It was the finale from Act 1 and I performed the part of Fiordiligi  with Inkeri Kallio as Doribella. The other performers were :

Don Alfonso – Jack Sandison
Ferrando – Robert Forrest
Guglielmo – Timothy Edmundson
Despina – Xinhui Lai

In the opera Don Alfonso makes bet with two younger men, Ferrando and Guglielmo that all women are fickle and are easily tempted.  As the two men believe their fiancés, Fiordiligi and Doribella, are loyal and faithful they see this as an easy bet to win and decide to play along. Pretending to have been called up to go to war the two men agree to return in disguise and attempt to tempt the others fiancé.  Will the deception work? Will the two sisters succumb to the advances of their new suitors?

In the scene that we performed Despina the maid had been persuaded by Don Alfonso to help him win his bet.  She works with the two men who are now disguised as two Albanians to tempt the two sisters to stray.  As part of the deception the two men threaten to poison themselves if Fiordiligi and Doribella do not accept their amorous advances. After refusing their efforts Ferrando and Guglielmo pretend to take the poison and Despina (now disguised as a doctor) saves them from dying.

Pretending to be under the effects of the poison the two men demand a kiss form the sisters who adamantly refuse.  Fearing the bet will be lost both Don Alfonso and the disguised Despina encourage the two sisters to agree to the amorous demands as the Act draws to a close.

I had a great time with everyone 🙂

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Then after school I packed up for the weekend as we had to travel to Reading in Berkshire for a concert which was on Friday, 18th March.

George Todica was both accompanying me in the concert and also playing three piano pieces by Franz Liszt, Maurice Ravel and George Enescu.  We arrived in the afternoon and after being shown the recital room we warmed up before getting changed for the performance. During the afternoon we had a look around the beautiful arts centre which was buzzing with life and a fantastic credit to the community.

During our performance we were made to feel so welcome by the enthusiastic audience and the evening just flew by.  We met so many lovely people and enjoyed chatting with them after the concert about the music that we performed.  I would like to say a special thank you to Penny and Brian for their hospitality.

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A Very Musical Weekend

February 21, 2016 — 49 Comments

I’ve had a very musical end to my week.

On Friday I went to the lunchtime concert at the RCS which featured ‘Mr McFalls Chamber’ group performing ‘All of the Above’. The programme was an energetic and innovative collection from jazz to rock and tango to contemporary classical.  The ensemble performed a commissioned piece by Paul Harrison who works in the RCS teaching jazz piano. They also performed arrangements of Frank Zappa’s songs and a piece by Tim Garland, Martin Kershaw, Joe Zawinul and Raymond Scott.  A little extra fairy dust was created by a very colourful lighting design that really lifted my Friday to new exciting heights. It was a real treat as often this isn’t paired with classical concert scene. Providing lots of food for thought!

Maximiliano Martín, clarinet
Cyril Garac and Robert McFall, violins
Brian Schiele, viola
Su-a Lee, cello
Rick Standley, double bass
Paul Harrison, keys
Iain Sandilands, percussion
Stuart Brown, drums

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Mr McFalls Chamber’


In the same evening, I went to the RCS symphony concert conducted by Alpesh Chauhan. It was lovely to see and support my friends as they continue through their training especially with graduation exams looming. The ensemble did a great job of performing this top tier concert repertoire, creating beautiful images and persuasive colours with sound.

The orchestra performed: 

Hector Berlioz ‘Grande Overture du Roi Lear, Op. 4. 

This composition was created after a dramatic moment in Berlioz’s life. Whilst living in Rome, Berlioz heard that his fiancée had married someone else. In a reaction of fury he purchased two revolvers and a measure of laudanum and strychnine and vowed revenge as he began his journey back to France. (Perhaps this story needs to be evolved into an opera libretto!) However he got as far as Nice, and then abandoned his plans. Berlioz then spent three weeks in the Mediterranean to recover and was enraptured by Shakespeare’s King Lear and decided to compose in his bout of enthusiasm.

Claude Debussy, La Mer 

These symphonic sketches were inspired by Debussy’s vivid memories from his childhood summers spent overlooking the Mediterranean Sea at Cannes. He wrote ‘I love the sea and I have listened to it passionately’ and he thought that music provided the ability to evoke the constant mutability of the sea that painters could not but often strived for.  This work was stunning and if you like paintings by Turner well worth a listen!

Berlioz,  Symphonie Fantastique 

In my first year I wrote about this piece and it was wonderful to hear it performed in my final year of my degree. The piece itself is programmatic and depicts an artist who is heartbroken from unrequited love, (Berlioz himself), who then tries to end their suffering by taking an opium overdose. However the drug sends him into a hallucinatory dream that creates a series of episodes.

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Then yesterday, Saturday 20th February I was thrilled to go and watch Scottish Opera’s ‘Ariodante’ by Handel. This was a superb production and possibly one of the best I have seen them put on. It was set in modern Scotland, depicted successfully through the stage design which reminded me of a contemporary home design featuring a wall of glass, metal spiral stairs and Edison style light bulbs in triangle cages. The singing was very classy and often sounded effortless. The cast did a wonderful job of sustaining my attention through the 3 hour performance by their romantic and expressively dramatic performance.

Each character went on a clear journey ending with a happy ending, (except for Polinesso who fell at the strike of a sword).

It was personally wonderful to see Jennifer France sing “Dalinda” because in my first year I saw her perform in a very sparkly long dress some Benjamin Britten in a cross Conservatoire competition held at the RCS. She still sounds amazing and her performance was particularly inspiring.

To finish off what has been a fabulous weekend I was able to enjoy some more Opera at the “Ye Cronies Opera Award” at the RCS. Where 16 students from the postgraduate Opera course competed for the annual prize. Everyone performed really well and the pianists were all supportive and brilliant too!

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Ye Cronies Opera Award at the RCS

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Each performance was of a high standard and I did not envy Neal Davies (who performed the role of The King in Ariodante) job of coming to a decision. Charlie Drummond came second and Euros Campbell came first. Congrats to all who competed and a big thank you to the audience for their support.

On Wednesday it was my friend Les Hughes’s landmark 50th birthday. He is a keen Liverpool FC fan so I recorded this song for him as part of his celebrations, I hope that he enjoyed it 🙂

To close I hope that  you all have a fabulous week 🙂

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This weekend I’ve had the chance to sit down with a cup of tea and reflect on my first performance of Grieg’s ‘Haugtussa’ as a complete song cycle. My Dad was able to come to watch when I performed in Edinburgh and I was so grateful to him as he stood at the back of the room and held his video camera over his head for the entirety of the evening so that I could listen back. Hopefully, next time he’ll bring a stand so he can relax and enjoy it. (Perhaps Santa will leave him one under the Christmas tree 🙂  )

Normally I struggle to watch myself as often I can be very critical. However, I read a book recently whilst I was preparing for my auditions and it recommended to list what you did well first and then rather than say “I did that terribly”, immediately start thinking how you can improve it.

For example in this video one of the things I would like to improve is my ability to keep my vibrato spinning at the ends of phrases to create a better line.

But for this blog post I am sharing this video with you as a work in progress as I would love to continue with my research into these pieces and work hard to improve my performance of them.

The song I have chosen is “Veslemoy”, it appears second in the cycle of the eight songs. Veslemoy is the real name of the young girl, and Haugtussa is her nickname meaning ‘mountain maid’. The text in this song describes her physical appearance as being thin and slender with brown pure features. It also mentions how she appears to be touched by magic allowing her to see into other realms. The second verse goes on to explain that despite her appearing calm she is still a young beautiful girl trembling and frail.

This description in some way prepares us for what is to come, as the story develops over the remaining six songs Haugtussa meets a boy and she feels her emotions blossom into a first love but sadly she is left waiting for him in the cold. He never returns.

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Me with George Todica in Troldhaugen where we performed in Grieg’s house during our stay in Bergen, Norway.

I’m very excited to work on this cycle as it is rarely performed in the UK in its original Norwegian and yet the music and poetry are so touching and beautiful. I hope to record the whole cycle next year and would love to share them with you.  George and I have been working with these songs for over six months now and they’re still a work in progress, I hope that you enjoy them on first listening and that they can grow on you to become favourites as they have done with me. This gives me an opportunity to really listen and appreciate George’s sensitive interpretation and emotional connection to these beautiful songs.

Translation :

She is thin, dark and slender
with brown, pure features
and her eyes are deep and grey
and she has a soft dreamy manner.
It is as if it, half and half,
lay a spell over the whole of her.
In movement, speech and everything she has a muted calm.
She has a muted calm.
Beneath her lovely forehead,
Her eyes shine as if behind a mist,
It is as if they staring, saw far into another world.
Only her breast goes tight and heavy
And her pale mouth quivers.
She is trembling, frail and weak
At the same time she is beautiful and young.
She is beautiful and young.

Here are some links to the posts that I wrote about my time in Bergen 🙂

Edvard Grieg – Composer
Soprano Packing!
Just Arrived In Bergen
Day 2 – Welcome To The Grieg Academy
Day 3 In Bergen – So Inspiring
Enthralling Lectures, Inspirational Performances and Great Company
Bergen – The Final Concert

Edinburgh Recital

November 22, 2015 — 79 Comments

What a wonderful weekend! On Saturday I had the privilege to perform alongside George Todica for the Edinburgh Society of Musicians.  It was a very welcoming society and a relaxing atmosphere to perform my first hour long solo evening recital that I had organised, designed and performed alone with piano accompaniment without any other soloists in the programme.

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Pascal Barnier Sent Me This Beautiful Image That He Created For Our Recital


The evening’s programme comprised of:

“Haugtussa” the full cycle by Grieg

Four of Aaron Copland’s American Folk Songs

Four Scottish Folk Songs

‘Quando M’en Vo’  – Puccini

‘Wo Bin Ich?’ – Humperdink

‘Song To The Moon’ – Dvorak

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The Edinburgh Society Of Musicians – The Performance Area


Before starting the concert I was a bit nervous as it was the longest I was going to sing by myself. This brings challenges of vocal stamina as the voice is produced by muscles activating and relaxing. Similarly to a long distance athlete you need endurance, fuel and energy to last the entire event.

Leading up to the concert I was practising my words regularly and I think in the future I will keep working on this so that I can relax a little more mentally in the concert, but I think that because my attention was highly activated I could create and spontaneously react to ideas George created on the piano.

I am excited to be performing the Haugtussa again in March 2016 and can’t wait to see the progression the piece will make over time.

The program was well received and we were commended for a professional performance.

For me the highlight of the evening was meeting everyone after the event including fellow musicians along with a pianist who knew the ‘Haugtussa’ cycle as he had performed it before, and we received some great advice and feedback.

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Charlotte Hoather                                                   George Todica