2016 has been a difficult year for the world in general – or perhaps it is just a year that has forcefully brought home to those of us lucky enough to live mostly without fear of safety, want or prejudice, that not everyone does. It feels like we might have gone backwards in some (important) respects – so I am all the more conscious of the need to focus on all the things about 2016 that I am very grateful for: some truly amazing music, wonderful opportunities to learn and develop, and – most importantly – all the talented, hilarious and inspiring people I have met and worked with.
I have so many wonderful memories of operas this year: performing Dido in the beautiful Great Hall at Dartington this summer, wearing a LOT of sequins at Opera Holland Park, touring Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore around Wales, and most recently a very special and moving production of Suor Angelica with Manchester Opera Ensemble in collaboration with the Women’s Equality Party – a truly rewarding and unforgettable project (#EqualityOpera).
The concerts have been no less enjoyable. I’ve been lucky enough to sing at the gorgeous Harrogate Royal Hall with the BBC Philharmonic and Huddersfield Choral Society, at St. Martin in the Fields, and in Russian for the first time at Pushkin House in London. I got to travel all over the country performing some cracking oratorios, including my first Handel Messiah, Mozart Requiem and C Minor Mass, CPE Bach Magnificat and Vivaldi Gloria. And I’ve discovered some splendid music – everything from Scarlatti cantatas to brand new works by composers like Melissa Douglas and Michael Betteridge.
I said goodbye to many MANY friends at the Royal Northern College of Music after graduating from my Masters this summer, but I’ve embraced bonny Glasgow, where I’ve just finished my first term at the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I’ve also had even more chance to learn and develop from opportunities like the British Youth Opera workshops and a week-long Film & Opera masterclass in Switzerland.
I’m most grateful for the variety of things I get to do – working with school children as the Witch in Hansel & Gretel for Opera North’s “In Harmony” Easter hub, improvising performance art for the brilliant Maeve Rendell, running our vocal ensemble Melodico with soprano Charlotte Trepess, or countless broadcasts with the BBC Daily Service Singers.
And I’m already looking forward to the chances and challenges of 2017. I can’t wait to perform Ottone in Agrippina at the RCS in January, before diving into a double-bill of two little-known French operas by Frank Martin and Darius Milhaud in March. I’ll also get the chance to pop back to Wales for a concert of Vivaldi’s Gloria and Haydn’s Nelson Mass in Cardiff in May, and I’m delighted to be returning to Opera Holland Park in London for their 2017 season.
Most of the enjoyment comes from the people – so to the teachers, coaches, instrumentalists, producers, conductors, directors, stage managers, administrators and all the many, many singers who I am lucky enough to count as both colleagues and friends: Thanks, and here’s to 2017!