Audition Oracle – Fri 11 May 2018 @ 9:00
Audition Oracle Singers Preparation Award April 2018
We are delighted to announce two winners for the April Audition Oracle Singers Preparation Award. Our anonymous donor has awarded £300 worth of support to Berlin-based soprano Kirstin Sharpin to aid her preparation the role Senta in Der fliegende Holländer ahead of her performances with Longborough Opera. Our own £300 award goes to mezzo-soprano Sophie Goldrick to fund new video/audio recordings following a change of repertoire. Sophie Goldrick will be recording with visual/audio engineer and baritone Jan Capinski. We look forward to hearing her new sound files in the coming months.
Kirstin Sharpin - Soprano
The winner of the International Wagner Stimmen Wettbewerb in Karlsruhe in 2015, Kirstin read English and Italian at the University of Auckland before graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as Master of Opera with Distinction. Further study followed at the Cardiff International Academy of Voice with Dennis O’Neill as an Independent Opera Postgraduate Fellow and Samling Artist.
Recent operatic engagements include the title role in Beethoven’s Leonore for the Buxton Festival and Kirstin's first steps into the role of Isolde, in an adaptation of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde staged for the University of Oxford's 'Wagner 1900' conference.
A critically-acclaimed Elettra (Idomeneo - Blackheath Halls Opera), and Gertrud (Hänsel und Gretel - Garsington Young Artists at West Green), Kirstin has given concert performances of the title role in Weber’s Euryanthe, Ada in Die Feen, Mariana (Das Liebesverbot for Chelsea Opera Group), and Gerhilde (Die Walküre for Saffron Hall Opera). Other roles include Samaritana (Francesca da Rimini for Opera Holland Park, Donna Anna (Regents Opera), Helmwige (Die Walküre - St Endellion Festival), Vitellia (La Clemenza di Tito - Opus Opera), Angelica (Suor Angelica - Beethoven Ensemble and RCS), Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, Fiordiligi in Cosí fan Tutte, and Nella in Gianni Schicchi, as well as covering Magda (La Rondine for British Youth Opera).
Confirmed future plans include a role debut as Senta in Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer at Longborough Festival Opera in June 2018, conducted by Anthony Negus in a new production by Thomas Guthrie. Arnold Schoenberg's Gurrelieder is also scheduled for the 2018 season.
Kirstin has made several appearances with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and her concert repertoire ranges from Handel to Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and beyond, including key cycles such as Vier Letzte Lieder, Shéhérazade,Wesendonck Lieder and Nuits d’été.
A semi-finalist in the ‘Meistersinger von Nurnberg’ and the Montserrat Caballé Competitions, the Elizabeth Connell and Kathleen Ferrier Prizes, Kirstin was awarded a Bursary by the International Opera Awards in 2016 and a Goodall Scholarship (Wagner Society of Great Britain) in 2014. Kirstin is a Britten Pears Scholar, and past recipient of Countess of Munster Trust, Miriam Licette and Sybil Tutton Scholarships.
Sophie Goldrick – Mezzo-Soprano
London-born Sophie grew up in Sydney, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Dramatic Art from the University of Western Sydney and a Masters of Music with Distinction from the RNCM where she studied with Mary Plazas. Sophie now studies with renowned Australian soprano, Yvonne Kenny.
Sophie has appeared with Scottish Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, King's Head Theatre, West Green House, Al Bustan Festival, Grange Park Opera, Co-Opera Co., Opera Purpur, Buxton Festival Opera, Clonter Opera, Benslow Baroque Opera, Focus Opera & the Gabrieli Consort and Players.
Operatic roles have included: Puccini Carmen (Carmen), Madama Butterfly (Kate), Verdi La Traviata (Flora), Sullivan The Mikado (Pitti-Sing), Verdi Otello (Emilia), Rossini Otello (Emilia), Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin (Olga), Mozart La Finta Giardiniera (Ramiro), Janáček The Cunning Little Vixen (Fox), Haydn Orlando Paladino (Alcina), Rimsky-Korsakov Kaschey the Immortal (Kascheyevna), Handel Serse (Arsamene), Semele (Ino and Juno), Britten Albert Herring (Nancy), and world premieres of Benjamin Ellin’s Beyond the Screen (Morena) and Tom Floyd's Micromegas (Poet).
On the concert platform, notable solo appearances include Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle & Stabat Mater, Mozart Requiem, Haydn Creation Mass and Nelson Mass, Vivaldi Gloria, Bach Magnificat, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream & Elijah, and Aaron Copland’s In the beginning.
Forthcoming projects include Kate in Madama Butterfly at West Green House and Dinah in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti.
Audition Oracle – Thu 10 May 2018 @ 9:00
Mezzo sings the Bard
This week Gráinne Gillis tells Audition Oracle about her unique project combining two of her passions, opera and Shakespeare.
“But why Shakespeare AND opera?”
I’ve always loved performing. Ever since I played the role of Snow White in my class production in Senior Infants in my hometown of Cork (the equivalent of Year 2 in the UK), I have been bitten by the bug that won’t go away, the smell of the crowd, the roar of the greasepaint. My whole childhood growing up in rural Ireland was spent reading, watching movies, playing the piano and going to the theatre – I loved pretty much all of it. (Except for Irish dancing – it took me a year to learn the most basic step, the ‘threes’). I would lose myself in the woods around my house and pretend I was Anne of Green Gables, or whatever character I was currently absorbed in. I frequently got the lead in school plays, and loved nothing more than to dress up and inhabit another person. Aged 10, I decided to put on my own production of ‘The Sound of Music’ and play Maria. All the neighbourhood kids were involved, playing the different parts. I somehow – and I really don’t know how, as I was a shy child – got all the mums involved in helping out with costumes, including veils made out of bin bags and white paper for the nuns. My directorial and vanity project debut was going swimmingly until all the cast forgot how the film ended, and so my brother Niall, playing Ralf the Nazi informer and Liesl’s former love interest, ended up fleeing with the Von Trapps over the Alps.
I guess if you’re going to have a dream – make it a good one!
I’ve been thinking a lot about these days, and what led to me putting on my production at this year’s Wandsworth Arts Fringe, Mezzo Sings The Bard (playing Upstairs at The Cat’s Back, as part of the Fragility ‘Takeover’ of the festival). Quite frankly, I blame my parents. My dad was a barman from Queens in New York who loved opera – if he wasn’t playing Sinatra or Crosby (particular favourites), he was playing Verdi, Donizetti or Handel. My mum, a primary school teacher for children with special needs from a farm in Co. Kerry, to this day loves both Shakespeare and opera – my childhood was peppered with phrases like ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be/For loan oft loses both itself and friend’, and ‘All that glisters is not gold’ and multiple other Shakespeare quotes, too numerous to write down, and outings to the theatre were as frequent as could be afforded. I first went to Macbeth aged 13 with her, and while I was a bit puzzled as to why the mainly student audience sniggered at the lines ‘Unsex me here’ and ‘Come to my woman’s breasts’, I was totally fixated by the language, and the music in the language. I immediately devoured everything I could on the great Shakespearean actors – Sir Laurence Olivier’s autobiography ‘Confessions of an Actor’ became like my bible. I was obsessed with Olivier, and his great career, and a little snippet that is told about his obsession with opera after playing Macheath in the Threepenny Opera and desire to pursue a career as an opera singer rather than the great actor he was stayed with me. One of my ambitions, after graduating from the drama school he founded, the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, was to play Emilia in Verdi’s Otello at the ROH and Aemilia in the Shakespeare play at the NT. Well, I guess if you’re going to have a dream – make it a good one!
I went to drama school by chance. I had vocal technique problems and so, rather than give up the stage entirely, I decided to throw my focus onto acting.
I went to drama school by chance. I had vocal technique problems and so, rather than give up the stage entirely, I decided to throw my focus onto acting. I’d done summer seasons in Cork as an actress and so it seemed like a logical progression. However, fate seemed to have different plans for me and every job I did after drama school required singing of some sort (even a Eurovision ad for Tetley’s Tea in 2003 involved lip syncing as part of made-up Eurovision band Threenky, playing at Wembley!). In 2004 I was told by my then agent that the late, great Sir Peter Hall wanted to see me for an audition. Luckily, on a particularly Fawlty-Towers-esque tour of ‘Death of a Salesman’ I had read his autobiography ‘Making an Exhibition of Myself’ and so was well-primed conversationally. We’d a good old chat about opera, and then he said ‘Well, I suppose I’d better audition you’. After doing my speech and singing the Habanera from Carmen (yes, I knew about Maria Ewing) he looked at me intently and said ‘Take care of that voice’. The next day I had the job, a six-month tour of As You Like It, where I had the lion’s share of singing and understudying to do. The feedback I got from my fellow actors was that I needed to pursue a singing career.
I resisted the idea; I embraced the idea. I spent two years as a busker for TfL until a tenor called Michael Hendricks stopped to listen and then sent me an email saying that I could have a serious career as an opera singer, but that I needed to stop busking. Through various courses, I searched for a teacher that could help me, and found one, Neil Baker, in October 2011. Six months later, I decided, with a burgeoning technique, that I had to give it that serious shot. So I kept on my voiceover work (lucrative and not time-consuming) and immersed myself in the world of opera.
One of the areas that it has been apparent to me that I have an edge over opera singers is, ironically, as an actress. The job with Sir Peter was my one and only foray into Shakespeare after graduating drama school, and I missed the beauty of the language. Classical text had been a forte at drama school, as well as my singing ability, but for some reason upon graduating, work in this area had more or less eluded me. The germ of an idea was being born – what if there was a way to combine both? But then the little voice in my head would say: ‘Why you?’ Finally, it became: ‘Why not you?’
But then the little voice in my head would say: ‘Why you?’ Finally, it became: ‘Why not you?’
Last September, having had a number of opera contracts under my belt, but faced with a period of unemployment, I mentioned my idea for an opera/Shakespeare cabaret, similar to a restaurant gig I do, and creating my own work, to an actress friend who is also a producer. She offered to help me to organise some potential arias and speeches I might do, and came up with the name ‘Mezzo Sings The Bard’. A few months later, another friend mentioned the Wandsworth Arts Fringe and Fragility Theatre Company’s ‘Takeover’. I applied and a couple of weeks later, received notice that it had been accepted.
The thing with Shakespeare, opera and mezzos is that once you start delving, discoveries flood in with regards to their mutual history!
The show (which is on the 11thand 13th May, tickets here) is like a trailer of a bigger show that I’d like to put on. The thing with Shakespeare, opera and mezzos is that once you start delving, discoveries flood in with regards to their mutual history! So many composers were inspired by Shakespeare. Verdi called him: ‘Il Papa, the greatest searcher of the human heart’. Even Wagner, not necessarily known for his fulsome praise of other artists, called him “The mightiest poet of all time. His dramas stand out as such an immediate likeness of the world”. I’ve discovered an opera of The Merchant of Venice on the recommendation of a repetiteur friend. A Hamlet played by a mezzo in the early 19thcentury. Many wonderful sets of songs on different Shakespearean themes – so much so, that in my head, one show isn’t enough to do the great man justice.
My show this week is approximately 45 minutes long, 8 arias and one song, from Purcell to the present day. There are a few speeches and a bit about Shakespeare with relation to opera, and my love of both with links devised by me, based on the opera/cabaret gigs I do in restaurants, which I greatly enjoy. There are a number of props, including a skull that lights up, which I’ve nicknamed Yorick (kindly donated by a friend - I am a sucker for a gimmick!).
Shakespeare and opera seem to carry with them a real fear factor these days, and I think that’s unwarranted.
While it’s been a learning curve in terms of the mechanics and preparation required to produce one’s own show, I’m passionate about bringing high art like this to communities who may never have been in an opera house or to a Shakespeare play (but who might be inspired to try it after), while retaining the integrity of both. Shakespeare and opera seem to carry with them a real fear factor these days, and I think that’s unwarranted. Neither Shakespeare, nor the many opera composers inspired by him could have made a living by playing solely to the 1% of their time – they did that by deliberately playing to the gallery and playing to the gods. Shakespeare and opera come from that same place – speaking to human hearts of truths that are universal, primal and difficult to verbalise. Bringing beauty to unexpected places seems to me to now be more essential than ever – and this week, that unexpected place will be the upstairs room of a Victorian pub, where we will ‘mark the music’ together. Since he was not averse to eluding to ye olde taverns in his work, I like to think somehow that the greatest Bard that ever lived might well have approved.
Mezzo Sings The Bard is on the 11thand 13thMay at 9.30pm at The Cat’s Back pub in Wandsworth. For booking details, visit: https://bit.ly/2HFNdRZ
Audition Oracle – Tue 3 Apr 2018 @ 9:00
Audition Oracle Singers Preparation Award - March 2018
This month we are delighted to award Soprano Caroline Taylor £200 to cover the fees for her participation in the Leeds Lieder Young Artists platform with her duo partner pianist Anna Chiu. We look forward to hearing more about their experience at the Leeds Lieder Festival in April. You can listen to Caroline and Anna perform here: https://youtu.be/BEN3RnlTqfY
As Caroline only applied for the amount of £200 to cover her fees, we've also been able to award £110 to Mezzo-soprano Monique Simone to cover the cost of her accommodation when she competes alongside four other singers in the final of The Douglas Rees Memorial Young Opera Singer of the Year Award.
We wish Monique all the toi tois for this competition. Monique will also take advantage of the opportunity to work privately with Norman Cooley of Acting for Opera on audition technique as part of her award.
Finally Soprano Beatrice Acland will also receive a 1-2-1 audition technique session with Norman Cooley along with a copy of his book Acting for Opera.
We are delighted to announce that for the April award an anonymous donor has come forward and consequently there'll be a total of £600 to award singers to help with costs incurred preparing for or participating in events that will help them progress in their careers.
Caroline Taylor is a postgraduate soprano studying at the Royal Northern College of Music under Louise Winter. Prior to this, she read for an MA (Hons) in French, Italian and Spanish at the University of St Andrews, where she graduated as the recipient of the Cedric Thorpe Davie Memorial Prize for outstanding musical contribution. Her studies are generously supported by the Richard Newitt Fund, the Lynn Foundation, the Mario Lanza Educational Foundation and Help Musicians UK, with whom she holds a Postgraduate Award. Her previous teachers include Anthony Roden and Jonathan May.
At the RNCM, Caroline has been a finalist in the 2018 Concerto Competition and the 2017 Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award for Singing of Strauss; and she won the 2017 Brodsky Cross-School Prize with her chamber ensemble, the Lucrezia Trio. Most recently, she represented the RNCM in the Sir Anthony Lewis Memorial Prize with Musica Britannica, winning first prize.
Concert performances include soprano soloist in Montéclair La Mort de Didon (RNCM Chamber Music Festival), Vivaldi Gloria (Anstruther Philharmonic Society), Bach Mass in B Minor (Kellie Consort) and St John Passion (RNCM), Handel Jephtha (St Andrews Chorus), Vaughan Williams Sinfonia Antarctica (Dundee Symphony Orchestra), Britten Les Illuminations and the chamber arrangement of Mahler Symphony No. 4 (Helix Ensemble). Opera credits include the title role in Massenet Cendrillon (RNCM Opera), Governess/The Turn of the Screw, Miss Wordsworth/Albert Herring and Coridon/Acis and Galatea (Byre Opera), Yum-Yum/The Mikado (Southampton Operatic Society), Papagena/The Magic Flute (St Andrews Voices) and scenes as Tina/Flight, Suzel/L’amico Fritz and Blanche de la Force/Dialogues des Carmélites (RNCM).
Caroline is an RNCM Songster and a 2018 Leeds Lieder Young Artist with her duo partner, Anna Chiu; recent recitals include St Ann’s Church, Manchester and Uppermill Festival Coffee Concert Series. She has a keen interest in 20th and 21st century song and has performed Messiaen Chants de Terre et de Ciel and Paul Patterson The Sorriest Cow of Capricorn in concert. In 2016, she won second prize in the AESS Courtney Kenny Award for English Song and Poetry.
In September, Caroline continues her studies at the RNCM with scholarship on the PGDip: Advanced Studies in Musical Performance. Future engagements include soprano soloist in Handel Messiah (Chesterfield Philharmonic Choir) and Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 (Phoenix Singers) and creating the role of Sara in the world premiere of Adam Gorb’s opera The Path to Heaven. She also joins British Youth Opera as Helena in the UK premiere of The Enchanted Island.
Monique Simone is an Australian/German Mezzo-soprano, who trained in both Melbourne and Perth, and performed in some of Australia's most prestigious concert venues.
She received a full scholarship to study classical voice, at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School (VCASS). While there Monique understudied the role of Dido, and performed as a soloist at the Melbourne Recital Centre, Federation Square and the Melbourne Arts Centre.
Monique completed her Bachelor of Music at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), graduating with High Distinction for her final recital. Whilst at WAAPA she performed the roles of Galatea (Acis and Galatea) and Hippolyta (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) under the baton of Richard Gill.
Monique was in the WAAPA International Art Song Academy, where she worked with Dr. Graham Johnson OBE and Mary King, and was selected as a soloist and performed with Graham Johnson in the Academy’s Gala Concert at Perth's beautiful Government House Ballroom.
Career highlights include: performing at Mark Coughlan's New Year’s Eve Vienna Pops Concert, at the Perth Concert Hall, bringing Opera to remote communities in Broome and Derby and as a soloist in Opera Under the Stars. Notable awards received include: the North of Perth Music Festival’s Most Outstanding Senior Vocalist and Perth’s Royal Overseas League Award for Young Singers.
In 2017 Monique enjoyed working with the West Australian Opera chorus, in Tosca and The Merry Widow.
Monique is currently studying to obtain her Masters in Advanced Vocal Studies, at the exclusive Wales International Academy of Voice, under the tutelage of international tenor Dennis O’Neill CBE.
Soprano Beatrice Acland recently graduated from the MA Opera Performance course at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she studied with Lorna Anderson and Ingrid Surgenor.
Beatrice recently performed in the chorus of Falstaff at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall under the baton of Vasily Petrenko with Sir Bryn Terfel in title role and Rebecca Evans as Alice Ford. Previous operatic engagements include Elivra Don Giovanni with British Youth Opera, Iris in Mid Wales Opera's Semele, Zhou in The Welsh National Youth Opera's Kommilitonen! conducted by Alice Farnham, Alice Ford in RWCMD's Falstaff conducted by Carlo Rizzi.
Equally comfortable in concert, Beatrice was the soprano soloist at the St Martin-in-the-Fields opera gala in January of this year. She has been the soloist in works including Mozart Mass in C minor, Haydn The Seasons and Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle. Last summer Beatrice worked with Joseph Middleton in Toulouse on song interpretation, which she then performed in concert there. Beatrice sang the role of Pheobe in the World Premiere of Arnold's Henri Christoph in concert at the Malcolm Arnold Festival and is the recipient of the EA Redmann prize, a semi-finalist at the Somerset Song Prize this year and was commended in the 2016-17 Mozart competition.
Audition Oracle – Tue 20 Mar 2018 @ 17:00
"I just wanted to write to say thanks for everything you guys at Audition Oracle have done for me over the past year and looking forward to the rest of this year. The vast majority of my opera work for both 2017 and 2018 has been from auditons advertised on the website and I massively appreciate how clear and easy to use it is."
Julian Debreuil, bass-baritone
Read more about the career of bass-baritone Julian Debreuil here www.julian-debreuil.com
Audition Oracle – Mon 19 Mar 2018 @ 17:56
Apply now for your chance to join the four current winners of our Singers' Preparation Award!
Every month for 2018, a singer will be chosen and awarded a prize of £300 worth of support to aid with their personal preparation and development as a classical singer.
This month we are very grateful to Norman Cooley from Acting for opera as he has donated two free 1-to-1 session (worth £75) for two different singers to work with him on audition success. For many, auditions remain a stumbling block. This is an excellent chance to do something about this and work intensively with Norman, leaving with practical tools that can aid you in your next audition. One singer will also receive a free copy of Norman's book Acting for Opera book to help with your preparation.
If you would like help from Norman with this aspect of your audition preparation, remember to include this in your application.