2016 – Nothing
2017 – The Sixteen: A Concert for Christmas
Rehearsals, 2016. Photo: Sam Stephenson
What was your first experience of Glyndebourne?
I first heard about Glyndebourne from my singing teacher at the time, Travis Baker. He encouraged me to apply for Glyndebourne’s Youth Opera as they were looking for chorus members for their production of a new opera called ‘Nothing’.
I had never heard about Glyndebourne before and had also never seen or sung in an opera before, so September 2016 was a completely new experience for me. Not just in terms of Glyndebourne, but opera as a whole. Having the opportunity to work in the same way that the professional Glyndebourne chorus would, in terms of working alongside professionals – soloists, Southbank Sinfonia, conductors, set design, lighting, etc and making lifelong friends – was such an incredible and unique experience.
Can you tell us about a standout moment from your time in GYO?
If I had to pick one stand out moment from my time in GYO, it would be the first time we all walked onto the stage for the first performance. It was an unbelievably incredible and terrifying feeling. But once the music started, all of the nerves fell away, and we all produced something which I’m still incredibly proud of today.
What made you decide you wanted to do this as a career?
Honestly, it was the drive to come back to Glyndebourne and become a professional in the chorus and maybe one day a soloist that really made me want to sing as a career. I studied at Guildhall for 6 years under Gary Coward, which gave me the support and training I needed to pursue a career in performing. I have been lucky enough to work with some other wonderful opera houses, including Opera Holland Park, Clonter Opera and Pegasus Opera, as well as performing as a soloist in recital settings. I absolutely love performing, and being able to perform at Glyndebourne… it doesn’t get any better than this.
You’re performing with the Glyndebourne chorus this Festival for the first time, what have been the highlights of that experience so far?
Well we’re only a few weeks in, but without giving too much away, seeing the set for the first time was a real mind-blowing moment. Also, when we had our first music rehearsal, it was a bit of a ‘pinch-me’ moment, as I have wanted to come back to Glyndebourne ever since my last day working with GYO.
What does a week in your life as an opera singer look like at the moment?
There will quite often be weeks where there is little singing work, but in a busy week, it’s a lot about self discipline. Being a singer means your career is split between many different working environments. Whether that’s in the Glyndebourne rehearsal room or shooting back up to London to teach your students. Making sure you’re looking after your voice as best you can though, and studying your music every day, are musts if you want to feel on top of your game.
Without giving away any spoilers, what should we look out for in this new production of Dialogues des Carmélites?
Now this is hard without giving away any spoilers, but you should look out for when the chorus first bursts onto the set, and the final scene. Bring your tissues because it’s definitely a tragedy.
If you could give any aspiring singer one piece of advice, what would it be?
I would say to just relax and take your time with singing. There is absolutely no rush to be Pavarotti by the time you’re 25. Everyone develops at different rates, and as long as you stick to what you know, growing and developing your voice, whilst also working hard, there is no reason why you couldn’t have a long and successful operatic career.
Nothing, 2016. George wearing sunglasses. Photo: Robert Workman