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Cleo Lee McGowan Q&A

We caught up with soprano Cleo Lee-McGowan who is singing the parts of the Angel Gabriel and Eve in The Creation this autumn.

Haydn’s greatest choral work will be on stage at Glyndebourne this autumn. The Creation is a vivid musical depiction of the seven days of creation.

We caught up with soprano Cleo Lee-McGowan who is singing the parts of the Angel Gabriel and Eve in The Creation this autumn.

Could you give us a short introduction to yourself and your career so far?

My name is Cleo Lee-McGowan and I’m a soprano from Melbourne, Australia. After graduating from the Guildhall School last year, I was fortunate to join the Glyndebourne Festival for the first time as a Jerwood Young Artist, with great opportunities such as covering Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro and singing in the incredible chorus. I was very excited to return this year to cover again, this time the role of Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s been a Summer of Britten for me as I’m currently singing First Niece in Peter Grimes with English National Opera!

What is special about the soprano solo role in The Creation?

Aside from the obvious beauty of Haydn’s music, I think it’s quite interesting that I actually sing two characters in the piece; the angel Gabriel, and Eve.

Have you sung this solo part before? How are you preparing for it?

No, I’ve never sung this solo part before! The music is so gorgeous that the preparation is really enjoyable. I’ve been working on it in depth with my teacher and coach to really prepare myself not only vocally, but endurance-wise as well; it’s a long piece!

What has been your most memorable performance at Glyndebourne to date?

My most memorable performance at Glyndebourne is probably when my family was visiting from Australia and were able to see me sing First Bridesmaid in The Marriage of Figaro. Due to the pandemic, we were separated for a couple of years, and so it felt really special to have them in the audience that night.

What makes Glyndebourne different from other opera houses?

Glyndebourne has to have the best surroundings of any opera house. It’s not every day you can stroll through the gardens and around a lake during the interval! It’s also such a welcoming and inspiring opera house to work in, so I always look forward to coming back.

Are there any other artists who have inspired you in your career?

Many! I’m inspired by my friends and colleagues frequently. I was particularly inspired by Erin Morley when she sang Norina in Don Pasquale last year; it was a joy to sit and listen from the chorus every show! I also love listening to sopranos from the past; Lucia Popp, Edith Mathis, Ileana Cotrubas…

What’s next for you after your Glyndebourne concert performances this autumn? Where can audiences see you next?

I’ll be back in Norway at The Norwegian National Opera in Oslo where I’m based. We are actually undertaking Barrie Kosky’s production of Dialogues des Carmélites that Glyndebourne originated this season, so there’s lots to look forward to!


Haydn’s The Creation is on stage this autumn on Saturday 18 November and Friday 15 December

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