Scribblings of a Mad Soprano

End of a decade

And so we begin the final year of the 2nd decade of the 21st century! (In other words, the ‘teens are over and now it’s the new roaring twenties.) Here’s a little pictogram illustrating the highlights of my ‘teens’:

Queen of Night made way for Adès, Adès and more Adès, with a little (non-Flute) Mozart sprinkled in for good measure, plus a (Olivier Award winning) bit of Tippett’s King Priam, and the (HPR International Art Song Contest winning) One Art project: CD, Recital, and Cabaret/Opera. #sopranolife #twentyteens

2019 End of Year Roundup

2019 was a year of new music, passion projects, and experimentation!

ONE ART, the project I started in 2014 with my company Femme Lunatique Productions, continues to evolve, with a new song setting added to the mix, the premiere performance of a ‘recital’ version of the piece, and the London premiere of the monodrama at the Tête à Tête opera festival:

‘This was brilliant! I really loved how you – with well-judged amounts of humour and pathos – told this story.’

‘Extraordinary’

‘Fantastic show, perfect marriage of form and content, and I loved your voice. A pitch-perfect lightness of touch that was devastatingly poignant.’

‘Daring’

‘Wonderful…a great achievement.’

I participated in passion projects of some of my colleagues and friends, most notably Wonder Woman by Jamie Moore, which garnered this notice:

‘A song cycle written by Jamie [Moore], performed by the ensemble and sung by Laure Meloy…a soprano with an open, expressive face, and an off centre stage presence…she was never less than engaging. A tremendous singer…the audience were held, almost not daring to breathe. The contrast of a trained soprano and a jazz(y) backing is something I’ve seldom encountered, and it’s sensationally successful, certainly on this occasion.’

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Other appearances were as soprano soloist in the Icon Theatre Chatham Witch site-specific performance piece, and leading a panel discussion about opera and gender balance, as part of the inaugural Fat Lady Opera mini-festival.

My development as a Wagnerian is gaining traction, with contracts for 2020, 2021, and 2022 (Brünnhilde, Ring Cycle) in the works and a London concert planned for next July, ‘Heroic Voices’.

All the best for the holidays and a very happy New Year!

Singers who do other things?

A friend of mine (an immensely talented singer, artist, and maker of beautiful things, as well as an advocate, activist, writer, and actress) reminded me recently in her blog that many, if not most, of us singers do more than one thing to earn a living. Whether it’s temping or restaurant work to keep us afloat in our student/apprentice years, teaching and part-time jobs during slow patches once we’ve had a little luck later on, or running a second business or ‘side hustle’ parallel to our singing career, even quite successful artists find that singing doesn’t always pay the bills; and/or doesn’t completely feed our need to be creative, fulfilled and in charge of something in our lives (being a singer can make a person feel very dependent on others: for employment, direction, career guidance etc.)

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But. (There’s always a but!) We have also been made to feel that admitting to this fact is admitting failure. That a ‘real singer’ (whatever that means) would never need to do anything else, and would definitely never want to do anything else. Sure, write your memoirs (or have them ghost-written) after you have retired from the stage. Ditto for teaching: be asked by the most prestigious conservatoire in your country to be on the faculty, or barring that, do some well-publicised masterclasses. 

Being an entrepreneur somehow doesn’t fit the popular image of being a Diva. 

My friend exhorted all us moonlighting warblers to ‘fess up, proudly, to what we do ‘on the side.’ So, I’m coming out of proverbial closet: I’m a singer, and also a teacher of singing, a writer, a business/personal coach, a keynote speaker, artistic director of Femme Lunatique Productions, and, most recently, a jewellery designer and maker. (Check our the Merch page on this website!)

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Much is being said about the new ‘gig’ economy arising for the next generation. We singers have been surviving that way for a very long time!

Getting out of the Zone

Business and personal coaches are always advising clients (and the general public) that it’s important to ‘get out of the comfort zone’ to allow change and growth. I’ve often wondered how those of us in the performing arts can apply this advice, seeing as our very choice of profession is already way outside most people’s zone of comfort in the first place…

What, me? Comfortable?

Then again, after a reasonable amount of experience, singing in front of an audience gets easier (although the nerves never entirely go away.) It can even start to feel like part of the routine. It is our job, after all!

But even those of us out here on the high wire need to keep growing: as artists, as people, as professionals. So what can we do? We’re already scaring ourselves daily, auditioning, entering competitions, putting our performances up for scrutiny by critics, audiences…other singers (yikes!)

I have been at this for a number of years (ahem) and had settled into a certain level of comfort: singing rep I’m confident of (and seemed to get asked to do fairly consistently.) Then, for myriad reasons, I have started to step outside that ‘zone’ (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.) New music is not particularly unusual for me, but a contemporary piece that requires me to perform as a cabaret artist? That was different.* Working with a composer? Fine. But a JAZZ composer? Gulp.** Moving into heavier rep? Well, fairly normal progression for a singer, but I never, NEVER thought I would be singing Wagner.***

Bye bye comfort zone, nice knowing you.

-————

*One Art: an opera/cabaret, most recently performed at Tête à Tête Festival 2019.

‘Fantastic show, perfect marriage of form and content, and…a pitch-perfect lightness of touch that was devastatingly poignant.’

**Wonder Woman, May 2019.

‘…a soprano with an open, expressive face, and an off centre stage presence…she was never less than engaging. A tremendous singer…the audience were held, almost not daring to breathe. The contrast of a trained soprano and a jazz(y) backing is something I’ve seldom encountered, and it’s sensationally successful, certainly on this occasion.’

***I will be singing Irene in Rienzi at St Johns Smith Square, July 2020, and covering Brünnhilde for Longborough Festival Opera’s Ring Cycle 2020-2022.

ONE ART at Tête à Tête: the opera festival


ONE ART: an opera/cabaret made its London debut on Saturday night at the Tête à Tête festival 2019. Below is some early audience feedback:

‘Thrilled’

‘This was brilliant! I really loved how you – with well-judged amounts of humour and pathos – told this story.’

‘Extraordinary’

‘Fantastic show, perfect marriage of form and content, and I loved your voice. A pitch-perfect lightness of touch that was devastatingly poignant.’

‘Daring’

‘Wonderful…a great achievement.’