Can you introduce us to your role?
I am a contralto in the OHP chorus and have been since 2010. I have sung some small roles and covered some bigger ones. This year I am singing in the chorus for Carmen.


What aspects of your role are you most excited about?
I’m really looking forward to working on Carmen. It was the first opera I ever sang in, when I was 17 – a very long time ago! I also conducted it with a community opera group a few years ago, so it holds a lot of memories for me. I’m always excited to see what the director and conductor do with a work, particularly a well-known one. The process of getting the vision out of the director’s head and onto the stage is always fascinating and exciting to be a part of.


What’s one surprising thing about your job that audiences may not know?
Our costumes come from a firm that also dresses many television, film and theatre productions. I felt very glamorous in one of our shows as I had most of Judi Dench’s costume from a Chekhov production at the National Theatre!


Who is your musical role model?
This is quite hard to answer as when I was young I wanted to act or be a pianist (although I abandoned that idea quite early) so most of my early role models were actors. Musically, it was always the conductors. I was hugely inspired by Simon Rattle and how he was happy conducting Beethoven, Takemitsu and Paul Whiteman jazz arrangements within a few days of each other; I loved the diversity of repertoire. And Haitink, for having such mastery of every orchestra and opera I saw him conduct. When it came to opera singers I always loved those who were wonderful actors too. Fiona Kimm was a huge favourite, and it was such a delight to be in a production with her at OHP!


Have you got a favourite OHP memory?
There are too many to choose from! I think the most emotional was singing in La traviata last year after a year of no music. It’s a gorgeous production and I loved playing a man. I gioielli della Madonna was another. It is such a mad, hypercaffeinated piece, and I loved the choral music in it. It was an extraordinary experience to be in it. In L’amore dei tre Re, the music when Fiora is murdered was so exciting. I used to wait for it backstage every night knowing it would hit just as hard every time. And Un ballo in maschera because every minute of the score and the production was extraordinary…but it is my favourite opera, so I’m a bit biased there!


What music got you through lockdown?
For the first part, I found it too difficult to think about the life that I had had before. I cut music out of my world and got on with voluntary work. I became a TV murder addict and watched endless detective stories! But gradually it felt okay to consider and work at it again, and I spent a lot of time listening to Eastern European music; lots of Janáček and Tchaikovsky and Borodin. I don’t know quite why they hit the spot – there was something about the feeling of space and solitude that seemed right when I was indoors almost 24 hours a day.


What are you looking forward to at OHP this season?
As ever, the chance to act and sing in a really good production supporting a fine cast – that’s what I enjoy every year! I’m hugely looking forward to Carmen, and also hoping to come and see Little Women and the double bill later in the season, as I don’t know the music well and am really interested to hear it. And I am definitely coming to see HMS Pinafore. I love G&S and it will remind me of being an undergraduate again.


If you could perform any role, what would it be?
Mrs Sedley in Peter Grimes! She’s so utterly awful and completely unaware of it. I love being abominable old bats.


If you would work with any performer or director, alive or dead, who would it be?
I would love to have worked with Jonathan Miller. I was and am in awe of his imagination and his intellect.


What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given, musical or otherwise?
Treat your colleagues as you would want them to treat you. And never go to a rehearsal without some knitting!