How did you get into opera and how did you get your first break?
I fell in love with opera when I was about eight. My parents loved music and used to take us to see concerts a lot. I started learning the piano when I was five. I vividly remember the first time I saw La traviata: I told my mum I wanted to sing Violetta when I grew up! Because I was able to learn music quickly thanks to my background as a pianist, I started to do concerts as a soloist quite early on in the process of learning to sing. I was also an assistant to a chorus master and conductor. Then I got into the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse in Paris and did a lot of contemporary music while I was a student. My first operatic role was the Princess in L’Enfant et les Sortileges (Ravel).
What have been your career-defining moments?
It’s difficult to know! I’m a very emotional person and often didn’t really realise what was happening in terms of my career as I was always focusing on the artistic part of my job. But I know that my first La traviata in 2001 for Opera Holland Park was indeed the start of a new chapter in my life. Theatres started to trust me after that show and I always see it as the real beginning of my career.
How do you prepare for a performance?
The rehearsal process is the main preparation. You have those weeks in the studio to create, explore, go wrong, try again, learning and work, work, work. On the day of a performance it’s all about being focused to share all that work. I usually do my yoga, meditation, go through my notes and my score again and again and give thanks to be able to go on stage. Opera is real team work and I love the atmosphere before the curtain goes up, when the theatre is like a beehive and everybody is focusing on giving life to a show.
You played the title role in Iris this year, what aspects of the role have you found most challenging?
I loved singing Iris. The music is amazingly beautiful but playing a teenager is always a challenge! The brutality of the story was unusual and required a lot of thinking and talking with the director to make it both believable and not too disturbing. The creative process with Olivia Fuchs and her team was very exciting. It’s so special when you feel you’re part of something different and can bring to life a piece that is not performed often. I’m very grateful.
In 2017 you’re returning to the OHP stage to take up the role of Zazà. What are you most looking forward to about performing this role?
Firstly, I’m looking forward to be back singing for my favourite summer festival! Zazà is another rarely performed opera and it’s a new challenge that I’m really excited about. Zazà is a complicated character, conflicted, passionate, living for her art and going through emotional heartaches. She doesn’t die, that’s a change for me as I usually end up dying on stage most of the time. My daughters tell me that I should write a book called The Art of the Dying Soprano!
Quick fire questions
Favourite opera: The one I’m working on
Favourite composer: Can’t pick one but Bach, Puccini and Debussy are at the top of the list.
Favourite role that you have not yet performed (but would really love to): Emelia Marty in The Makropulos Case (Janáček) but I have a few on my wish list!
Favourite aria: I’ll never sing it obviously but Lensky’s aria ‘Kuda Kuda’ (Eugene Onegin) is beautiful.
Favourite place to perform: Wherever there is a stage and people to make music with is my kind of place!
Singer you’d most like to perform with: A committed one, who puts music and theatre first and is a team player.
Article taken from Chorus Magazine, Autumn 2016.