This time last year I was embarking on rehearsals for my final role at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) as Erika in Barber’s ‘Vanessa’ - it was my 7th year of vocal studies! I commenced my studies at the RNCM directly from school and didn’t really know what to expect from a full-time music course at a Conservatoire. I was so pleased that my days were going to be immersed in music and performance and that I was going to be able to continue to pursue something that I had loved throughout my time at school.
Sometimes people are surprised at how long singers train for … but as I stood in the chorus in my first RNCM opera, I can remember feeling that it was going to take far more than a course to convince me that I would be able to embark on an opera role!
Heading into performance 6 of Opera North’s Giulio Cesare this week, playing the role of Sesto less than 12 months on from leaving college …is an absolute dream!
Sesto is a young boy who quickly becomes a young man following the death of his father at the hands of Tolomeo. I have loved exploring Sesto’s emotional journey throughout the rehearsals with director Tim Albery and learning so much about Handel’s musical style with conductor Rob Howarth. Combining the learning through the production is so exciting – hopefully for the audience too! I have loved being a part of the production and to be introduced to opera audiences across the UK is one of the most rewarding parts. I have a great deal of admiration for the people I have been working with at Opera North - I have been learning so much from them, in such a friendly, professional and supportive environment, at a time when, personally, almost everything feels new.
Since leaving my studies at the RNCM in April 2011, I am so fortunate to be represented by the Young Concert Artist Trust and to have become an English National Opera Young Artist. I was delighted to make my debut in the role of Cherubino with ENO at the Coliseum in November 2011 and to then be able to make my Opera North debut in January 2012.
It is so exciting to hear about the new collaboration between Opera North and the RNCM and what this will mean for the next generation of singing students at a crucial time in their development, as they prepare for a career in the opera profession. It can certainly feel like a precarious time coming from full-time music studies to the professional music world and a time with lots of uncertainty. It is so encouraging for singers to know that professional organisations are coming together in recognition of this, to provide a much needed and invaluable bridge for the transition from education to the profession.
I feel so fortunate to have been given opportunities by both organisations to learn, explore and work amongst truly creative professionals. I sincerely hope it may continue for a long, long time to come!
Giulio Cesare is on tour until 16 March. Further information and performance dates can be found here.
Photo: Kathryn Rudge as Sesto and Jonathan Best as Achilla in Opera North's Giulio Cesare. Photographer: Tristram Kenton