Scrolling through Twitter this morning, I came across a post which suggested that opera singers feign a preference for popular music over classical music in order to appear cool. This immediately caught my interest, not least because the post was in response to a newspaper interview in which a good friend of mine expressed his … More What are you listening to?
Having spent my summer singing all three Wotans and Kurwenal, I’ve finally plucked up the courage to have a stab at The Flying Dutchman, or Der fliegende Holländer, as it’s known in German. I say “finally” because it is a role I have studiously avoided for a long time. With good reason. Both Norman Bailey … More The Flying Scotsman
Previously on Walhall of a Mess :- Walhall of a Mess Walhall of a Mess – Part Dieu So I went for a walk. Not your average Sunday afternoon stroll, mind you, but a proper walk. Real Forrest Gump-style stuff. Not exactly sure how long I’ve been gone, but I reckon it must be … More Walhall of a Mess – Sieg3d, The Final Insult
As I sit here idling away a free afternoon, sipping on a tasty local artisan ale in a deserted Colombian bar, Chumbawumba playing on the jukebox, the swell of the city ebbing and flowing around me, two intrepid little ladies have just dived headlong into the middle of heavy traffic and started waving their arms … More Hola! Bogotá!
America is a big place. The “land of the free and the home of the brave” was conceived by the founding fathers as a place of equality, idealism and opportunity, a land of plenty, a fresh Utopia where everything would be better, fairer, and, apparently, much, much bigger. I’m always startled by the sheer bloody … More Don’t push it!!!
After several months of silence, where any free writing time was devoted to the mammoth task of re-translating Hans Sachs into English, I finally managed to find enough free time and energy to put down a few thoughts on Meistersinger, which the Guardian newspaper kindly published. Here’s the link:- http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/feb/04/i-hope-our-artistic-leaders-will-heed-sachs-advice-the-survival-of-eno-may-depend-on-it Enjoy!
There was a moment this afternoon when my larynx nearly escaped through my forehead. Like a fighting bull suddenly unleashed from its pen, it charged around the inside of my skull, pounding and pummelling, bruising and battering, and gleefully goring the previously proud, pompous matador of my vocal technique. Minor haemorrhaging from ears and nostrils … More Getting it wrong
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an opera singer in possession of a bit of spare cash, must be in want of a motorcycle.” Jane Austen, petrolhead, 1813. I love motorbikes. Always have. However, like most seventeen-year-olds with terrified mothers, I wasn’t allowed to have one. A car was fine, even when driven with … More Zen, and the art of opera detox
If you want to succeed as an opera singer, it’s vital that you have a good relationship with your singing teacher. In that regard, I was very lucky indeed. Jeffrey Neilson Taylor was more than just a teacher to me – he was a mentor, and, in many ways, a surrogate father. He would have … More Acquired Instinct
We’ve all been there. Cold sweats. Pounding pulse. Butterflies. Clammy palms. Dry mouth. Sticky throat. And then the orchestra starts playing a completely different opera from the one you were expecting. Thankfully, most of us wake up at that point and thank our lucky stars that it was all just a horrible performance anxiety nightmare. … More The Fear
I would like to start with a revelation. Despite appearances, and I know this will come as a great shock to you, I am not Anna Netrebko. And the sad fact – I hate to be the one to break it to you – is that neither are you. Given that there are currently only … More The Everyday Voice
I’m often asked, “Isn’t smoking bad for your voice?”, and I always reply, “I don’t smoke.” This can often provoke the most amusing expressions of confusion and befuddlement, particularly as I usually happen to be puffing away merrily when the the topic comes up. People, on the whole, don’t wish to be offensive and belabour … More Blowing smoke