Soprano Nazan Fikret organises Grenfell Tower Benefit Concert

Audition OracleThu 10 Aug 2017 @ 9:00

Grenfell Tower Benefit Concert -17th September

Singers involved in Grenfell Tower Benefit Concert | Audition Oracle

Soprano Nazan Fikret tells us about the origins and plans for the upcoming Grenfell Tower Benefit Concert:

My motivation to do a concert was simple: I woke up on 14th June, my 30th birthday incidentally, and heard the news. I was angry, shocked and desperate to help. For me it summarised everything that's wrong with our society: ignore the poor, cut corners to line to pockets of the rich and don't do anything to change things until disaster strikes. This was a tragic and avoidable incident. However, like so many singers, I haven't a penny to rub together, so thought doing a concert and raising money was the logical thing to do. I envisaged a church hall, a slightly out of tune piano and a few colleagues. I could not have imagined the high profile event this has evolved into!

The music community has been so generous- from singers of all ages and stages, to conductors, orchestral players, the Cadogan, Philharmonia, ROH, ENO, Garsington, Sarah Playfair, Henrietta Bredin of Opera Magazine, The International Opera Awards, Sophia Tuffin my Project Manager, Cantate Communications for Printing the programme, Annie Rushton for designing.....and Petroc Trelawny for presenting on the night! The list is endless!

All of this support has enabled us to plan a truly extraordinary concert which we hope will be a suitable commemoration for the victims and a fundraiser for the London Emergencies Trust.

For further information about the concert please visit

Tickets: from £20, available from Cadogan Hall Box Office
Online: Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ
Box Office: 020 7730 4500

Singers to include: sopranos Lee Bisset; Francesca Chiejina; Samantha Crawford; Nazan Fikret; Janis Kelly; Louise Kemény; Anna Patalong; Gweneth-Ann Rand; Natalya Romaniw; Kirsty Taylor- Stokes; Ailish Tynan; Jennifer Witton; mezzo-sopranos Katie Grosset; Anna Huntley; Maria Jagusz; Héloïse Mas; Christine Rice; countertenor Jake Arditti; tenors Luis Gomes; Robert Lewis; Stuart Skelton; Jack Swanson; baritones Gary Griffiths; Martin Häßler; Benedict Nelson; Alan Opie; Ricardo Panela and bass-baritones Keel Watson and Joseph Padfield.

Pianists to include: Eugene Asti; Dylan Perez and Linnhe Robertson
Conductors to include: Edward Gardner; David Angus; Douglas Boyd; Richard Hetherington; Timothy Redmond; Matthew Morgan and James Sherlock
Super Orchestra composed of players from the leading London orchestras including: Philharmonia; Royal Opera House Orchestra; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and others


From the Practice Room to the Rehearsal Room

Audition OracleFri 21 Jul 2017 @ 9:40

From the Practice Room to the Rehearsal Room

Laura Attridge in the rehearsal room | Audition Oracle

‘And So Forth Productions in rehearsal for Damsel/Wife/Witch’.


You've survived the audition and got the role: congratulations! Now what? 

Director Laura Attridge, Artistic Director of And So Forth, shares her top tips for surviving the big shift from the practice room into the rehearsal room.’ 

1.     Prepare.

Yes, I know, this is the obvious one. Preparation not only shows respect for your colleagues, but also allows you to hit the ground running once you're in rehearsals. Furthermore, the more familiar you are with every aspect of the role, the more you will have to offer to a director and conductor, and the more freedom you will have to explore the role within the context of a particular production.

2.     Turn up with ideas, not decisions.

Related to the above, your preparation should enrich, rather than diminish, the options you have for your performance. The better you know a translation, the more possibilities you have for interpreting the text; the more comfortable a role is musically in your body, the bigger risks you can take in expressing emotion through the voice whilst remaining vocally healthy; the more you consider the nuances of your character and their motivation, the more prepared you will be to explore these in a rehearsal room.

3.     Prepare your text like you would a play.

If you're able to do this – creating emotion, character and intention without the support or interference of music – you will have much greater ownership over the dramatic aspects of your performance, and you'll enhance your understanding of what part the music has to play in relation to the words when you add it back in.

4.     Dress appropriately.

Comfort and the ability to move are paramount. In addition to this, though, I'm fascinated that so many singers turn up to the rehearsal room having made an inordinate amount of effort with their appearance (you know who you are!); conversely, actors will often deliberately rehearse in neutral clothing a world apart from their personal style. Consider this for a moment: clothing plays a big part in how we express our own identity; think of that transformational feeling you get when you put on a costume for the first time! If you show up to the rehearsal room in an outfit which is 100% an expression of you, are you making it harder for yourself to shed your own character and take on another?


5.     Know your process.

Take responsibility for knowing yourself, and your needs, as an artist during the creative process. Whether you thrive upon clear, specific instructions to form the base of your work, or prefer to refine a performance out of improvisation, the more familiar you are with what makes you tick, the better you can use your time in a rehearsal room.

6.     Don't be afraid to ask for help or clarification.

While you are there to realise the vision of the director and conductor, by the same token the director and conductor are there to facilitate and support your performance. The best directors will adapt the way they work with you – and how they express instructions – as they see how you respond in the rehearsal room. However, they're not psychic: referring back to point 5, if a director has asked you for something that isn't hitting home, or feels uncomfortable, tell them. Helpful ways to do this are 'Could you help me better understand what you want from me here?' or 'Do you mean like this, or perhaps like this?'

7.     Try things at least once.

Having said the above, this isn't an excuse to refuse to try something because it's outside of your comfort zone, or goes against your particular character interpretation (if it's potentially dangerous or physically/vocally harmful, of course, this is a different matter!). A rehearsal process is a space to experiment and to explore, and the best interpretation can take a few attempts to find or refine. Just give it a go: a director may well discover that they don't like the idea after all, and try another; alternatively, you might discover it's a better idea than you anticipated! You won't know until you try.

8.     Consolidate, consolidate, consolidate.

This is as important as initial preparation. It's the most frustrating thing as a director to have to go backwards in a rehearsal process if someone turns up and has forgotten what they did last time. Again, know your process: know what you need to do in between rehearsals to back things up on your mental hard drive. That way you can maximise the progress you make in subsequent rehearsals, towards your best performance.

Want to find out more about your own process as a performer, challenge yourself, or approach your craft in a new way? Join me at one of the upcoming workshops for performers with my company, And So Forth.

Laura Attridge is a dynamic maker of opera and theatre, and founder of And So Forth (ASF), a company dedicated to facilitating dialogue between creative disciplines and practitioners, and supporting the development of emerging artists. This August and September, Laura is curating ASF's second series of workshops and masterclasses for performers: these intense practical sessions address acting, auditioning, and physical characterisation, and are intended to augment standard conservatoire training. Full information on all the workshops can be found on the And So Forth website

Laura Attridge - director | Audition Oracle

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Remembering Kathleen Ferrier

Audition OracleSat 17 Jun 2017 @ 9:00

Remembering Kathleen Ferrier


Kathleen Ferrier, contralto - Audition Oracle Blog

This weeks guest blog post comes from Paul Campion, Executive Producer of Kathleen Ferrier Remembered

Kathleen Ferrier was perhaps the most popular British ‘classical’ singer of the 20th century. For ten years, beginning in the Second World War, she captured the hearts of millions of Britons – and millions overseas too – with her glorious, rich contralto voice and warm personality that shone through even on records and radio broadcasts. For those fortunate enough to hear her sing ‘live’, she had an almost mesmerising effect; each member of the audience under the impression that she was singing for them alone, that there was a direct link between singer and listener.

This personal magnetism was natural to Ferrier but, to become the great singer that she was, she had to study hard and learn a lot.

Ferrier was born in 1912 in the Lancashire village of Higher Walton. When she was two she moved with her parents, older sister and brother to nearby Blackburn, where she grew up. From her earliest years she was attracted to the piano and, as a young girl and teenager, she was exceptionally talented, gaining qualifications from the Royal Academy and Royal College of Music. She also enjoyed singing in choirs, but as a secondary musical interest.

In 1926, the fourteen year-old left school and went to work in Blackburn Post Office, later becoming a telephonist. Her marriage in 1935 to Albert Wilson was not happy and was annulled in 1947. While living in Cumberland in 1937, Ferrier entered Carlisle Music Festival and surprised everyone, including herself, by winning both the Piano and Solo Contralto class; such success made her think about taking her voice more seriously and she had lessons with Dr Hutchinson in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This prepared her for a move to London in 1942 – with just a handful of engagements booked and a great deal of ambition. Her ‘London Professor’, the baritone Roy Henderson, was able to teach her interesting repertoire, platform presence and built her self confidence.

The composer Benjamin Britten heard her sing and in 1946 he composed his opera The Rape of Lucretia with her voice very much in mind. Indeed, she sang the premiere at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 1946, to considerable acclaim. The next year she returned to Glyndebourne to sing Gluck’s opera Orfeo and also took part in the first Edinburgh International Festival, singing under the guidance and the baton of the conductor Bruno Walter. This was the beginning of a five-year collaboration which has become legendary among music lovers worldwide.

By this time Ferrier was making records, of oratorio (St Matthew Passion), German Lieder (Schubert and Brahms, particularly), of opera (Orfeo) and British songs from the 17th to the 20th century. They sold in their many thousands and were broadcast regularly on radio. In this way everyone got to know Kathleen Ferrier, heard the smile in her voice and luxuriated in the confident warmth of her rich tones.

Tours to North America and around Europe soon followed; she was particularly popular in the Netherlands, which she visited frequently. At home, Ferrier travelled from the north of Scotland to the south of England, east to west, enriching the lives of many still suffering from the aftermath of the war. A visit to Vienna in 1950, to sing in a Bach Commemoration Festival, was a particular landmark in her career; but this busy lifestyle was temporarily stilled by a cancer diagnosis in 1951. As was conventional in those times, this illness was not spoken of and only closest friends knew.

Resuming a modified schedule, Kathleen Ferrier continued learning new works, making new records and singing every year at the Edinburgh Festival, at the Proms in London and all around Britain, where she was in great demand…everywhere.

A new production of Orfeo was planned for the Royal Opera House in 1953, to be conducted by her friend Sir John Barbirolli. She enjoyed working with him on the score and preparing for this important booking. The first performance was a triumph but, at the second, she was taken ill during the performance and only with difficulty managed to finish it. It proved to be her last appearance on any stage and she died eight months later aged 41, genuinely mourned by millions. At the time of her death she was said to be the second most famous woman in the country, next only to the young Queen, Elizabeth II.

Loved and admired all over the world – what was this fascination that Kathleen Ferrier exerted on so many people, many of whom would certainly not have described themselves as ‘Classical music fans’?

There are several answers: she was very attractive and self-assured with a confident stage presence; for many millions she represented ‘The girl next door’, never posh or arrogant but charming and smiling. Men loved her – in a very proper way – and women did too; but it was the voice that really appealed to the world. Those warm gentle tones, exquisite soft notes (and impressive ‘fortes’ when necessary) were literally unique. Rather bizarrely, one adjudicator at a Music Festival once wrote that her voice made him feel that he was ‘being stroked’…. He detected that relaxed ease and confidence that she displayed so generously.

No-one else has ever sounded like Kathleen Ferrier.    

In the generations before Ferrier, contraltos were often thought of as rather fearsome women. They were frequently grand, imposing – almost frightening onstage and often their voices matched their looks. One could admire them, for they were impressive, but love them – maybe not.

Ferrier is a role model for those who come after. They are seldom true contraltos, as she was, but more likely mezzo-sopranos, a voice style that seems to sit more easily in recent musical times. Ferrier could teach them charm and elegance, humour and style and there can be few, from Norma Procter to young Kathryn Rudge, from Janet Baker to Sarah Connolly, for whom Ferrier has not stood out as a role model.

She was indeed a singer apart.   

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered, contralto | Audition Oracle

‘This is a disc that will thrill and delight every admirer of this glorious singer.’ Rupert Christiansen


Jorge Navarro Colorado wins rave reviews in the Göttingen International Festival!

Audition OracleMon 5 Jun 2017 @ 10:37

Tenor Jorge Navarro Colorado wins rave reviews in the Göttingen International Festival!


"Jorge Navarro Colorado gave us a breathtaking virtuoso display (while still acting his socks off) at the beginning of Act Two."
The Arts Desk

We are delighted to announce that Jorge’s debut at the Göttingen International Festival has been met with widespread critical acclaim. After winning the role of Beregnario in Handel’s Lotario, Jorge applied for our 2017 Preparation Scholarship Award. This award is specifically designed to help provide extra training in preparation for an important upcoming professional engagement (be it an opera, concert or related performance) with no age restrictions. Jorge was the recipient of this year’s award and it is wonderful to hear from him that all the preparation has paid off:

Jorge Navarro-Colorado

Berengario Lotario at the 2017 Göttingen Handel Festival


"I've had an amazing time, I felt completely well prepared and never below the level of my more experienced colleagues, and it has just been a joy to take part in such amazing production with such talented people. To top it off, I'm having more work offers following this job, and I take with me some lovely reviews:

"A second highlight of the direction and the unmistakable vocal artistry of the singers is Berengario’s great aria of remorse in the third act, in which Jorge Navaro Colorado, with a breathtaking mastery of coloratura, transforms the physicality of his character also with the most masterful vocal variety and musical characterisation."
Guido Müller - IOCO

 “As Mathilde’s husband Beregnario, Jorge Navarro Colorado displays an elegant, noble tenor. "
Michael Schäfer - Göttinger Tageblatt

"Jorge Navarro Colorado has much to sing as Berengario. With his radiant, high tenor, he shows himself completely mobile in the fast runs and performs a credible change from the evil villain to the repentant man. This is especially evident in his aria in the third act, "Vi sento, sì, rimorsi entro al mio sen", when he is always plagued by feelings of guilt and collapses in the arms of his wife."
Thomas Molke - OMM

"I wanted to thank you, Audition Oracle, the donors of the award and the panel who chose my application, once more, for being such a help in this little success which is a very big step in my professional development. Thank you!!”


We wish Jorge great success in the future! Our Singer's Preparation Scholarship has continued to grow each year and with no age or nationality restrictions, we hope that it will inspire other organisations to offer this type of open support for singers regardless of their age or stage of their career.  Look out for the opening of the 2018 Scholarship Award later on in the year!


Opera Icons on Desert Island Discs

Audition OracleWed 24 May 2017 @ 19:41

Opera Icons on Desert Island Discs

Who doesn't love Desert Island Discs? First broadcast in 1942, it is a format that has stood the test of time not least because of its capability to reveal far more about the interviewees than other, more conversational, interview techniques.

For those of us that love opera, the Desert Island Discs Archive offers an extraordinary insight into the lives and music choices of some of the most iconic opera artists of the past 70 years. Perhaps the most infamous episode in the show's history was with the operatic grand dame Elizabeth Schwarzkopf who chose seven of her own recordings, but look beyond this notorious appearance and you will find over eighty historic interviews with the great and good of the opera stage. So dip in to the archive and discover some extraordinary gems. Don't know where to start? Here are a few of our favourites!

Sir Peter Pears (Tenor) 1969 & 1983

Sir Peter Pears

'I wanted to be able to remember a very happy life’

These two interviews give a fascinating insight into Sir Peter's early training and, as you’d expect, the latter interview reveals far more about his relationship with Benjamin Britten than the first.

Jessye Norman (Soprano) 1981

Jessye Norman

Hear about a rather unconventional audition process that led to Jessye Norman winning a career making role in Tannhäuser for Deutsche Oper.


Jonas Kaufman (Tenor) 2015

Jonas Kaufman

An episode when you can hear a giggling Kirsty Young being swept off to the desert island herself by the smooth charm of Mr Kaufman...

Birgit Nilsson (soprano) 1963

Birgit Nilsson

This is pure gold for those that consider Birgit the ultimate Isolde....


John Copley (Director) 2010

John Copley

A hilarious interview into the astonishing life and career of the legendary opera director John Copley.

The Three Tenors, 1976, 1980, 1980

The Three Tenors

Yes! Long before Italia '90 all three tenors had appeared on Desert Island Discs...

Lucian Pavarotti 1976 

Jose Carreras 1980

Placido Domingo 1981

Renata Scotto (Soprano) 1980

Renato Scotto