Well, my weird and wonderful life as an opera singer has kept me so busy that I haven’t had the chance to tell you what’s been happening of late. But, once I get into the swing of blogging, I hope to keep you more regularly updated.
The last few months have been very exciting. Our performances of Atalanta with Cambridge Handel Opera met with rave reviews – I was even praised by the great Iain Burnside (@iainburnside) on Twitter, alongside my fellow co-stars Anna Huntley and Erica Eloff. In the papers, Anna was hailed as “a gifted comedienne”, Erica “made a glorious love-sick hero” and I got the chance “to shine and to hold the audience’s attention magically”. Who could ask for more! Naturally, there was also praise for our Musical Director, Andrew Jones, the “lynchpin” of the production and of the company. It looks like Atalanta might have been Cambridge Handel Opera’s final production. How sad - it will be sorely missed!
While I was in Cambridge, the bosses very kindly gave me a morning off to go and sing
for some tenor called Plácido … who was it … ah yes, Plácido Domingo. He was being presented with the Freedom of the City of London and I, alongside my accompanist Anna Cardona, had been invited to perform at the ceremony in the Mansion House. It’s hard to describe how impressive the building was. It was like a palace. We rehearsed in the banqueting hall laid out for a feast that would be attended by the Queen the following day. There were snipers on the roof and metal detectors in the foyer.
The actual performance took place in one of the smaller function rooms. Domingo was ushered in and positioned straight in front of me, just a few metres away. Also present was the Lord Mayor of the City of London, the Lord Chancellor, other dignitaries and members of the international press. So nothing too intimidating then We performed two arias which were extremely well received, then posed for photographs with Mr. Domingo. It was all over within the space of an hour but it’s an experience I will never forget!
Shortly after finishing up in Cambridge I flew to Ireland with Anna to record an album of classical songs and arias based on the theme of love. We made the recording in the beautiful Calary Church up in the Wicklow Mountains. Anna and I chose a programme that included well-known arias and Irish songs such as the The Salley Gardens and A Stóirín Bán.
It was very cold in the church over the few days of recording. In between takes we huddled beside electric heaters, wearing scarves, gloves, and two jackets each. Copious tea breaks were taken. I wonder if it added another colour to the recording. Our recording engineer, Darby, did a wonderful job and selflessly insisted that we have the heaters while he, no doubt, froze in the next room. We’re now working hard to have the album (entitled By Love Inspired) ready for release in July. Watch this space!
At the end of the recording period Anna and I gave a recital in the church to celebrate the album’s completion. We were joined by my fabulous soprano friend Donna in the second half of the recital and together we performed a mixture of duets and arias. In keeping with the glamorous life to which I have become accustomed our dressing room was a tiny sacristy (with no heating). Donna passed the time by fashioning a giant key out of cardboard and tinfoil. I stopped thinking she was mad when she pulled it out for The Doll Song and insisted that I wind her up. She doesn’t miss a trick, that girl.
You might think that completing an album and giving a celebratory concert would be followed by a period of rest and relaxation. But no, there were more exciting events to come before May was out. Check in here again next week to read the second instalment of May Mayhem!