ENO Harewood Artists - Alumni Stories
24th November 2016 in News
From Monday, 21 November, to Thursday, 1 December, 2016, donations made to the ENO Harewood Artists’ programme will be matched, making them twice as valuable to ENO. Support opera’s rising stars and see your donation doubled. Find out more about ENO Harewood Artists and the Match Campaign.
Read about the personal experiences of Katherine Broderick, Kate Valentine, Leigh Melrose and Sarah Tynan as ENO Harewood Artists.
My ENO Harewood highlight probably is hearing the amazing ENO orchestra begin the overture of Don Giovanni while I stood in the wings waiting to make my professional London operatic debut as Donna Anna. That was such a huge milestone in my life.
Being a Harewood artist gave me the opportunity to work as a young professional in the wider operatic world while having a safe haven for coaching and performance at ENO. Now I’ve moved to Germany to continue my career and feel I’ve had my apprenticeship at ENO. For dramatic voices especially it is important not to be singing Wagner too soon. I’m now singing Elsas, Sieglindes and Brünnhildes at the right stage and time for me and my vocal wellbeing.
My most fun moments on stage at the London Coliseum were in the wonderful Jonathan Miller production of The Barber of Seville. There were many moments when it was difficult not to corpse. Sharing the stage with Andrew Shore and the gorgeous uniformed men of the ENO Chorus is a dangerous business! A particular moment from that opera is when Dr Bartolo traps his spectacles in the strings of the harpsichord.
I learned so much during my 4 years as a ‘Harewood’ Artist: about stagecraft, stamina, teamwork, and how to learn from dealing with different personalities. It was a steep learning curve for me, but I’m forever grateful for the baptism of fire, because it has helped shaped me into the person I am today, given me the confidence to embrace the good and the bad, and taught me to trust myself as an artist.
My favourite role I’ve performed at ENO has been Elisabeth Zimmer in Fiona Shaw’s Elegy for Young Lovers at the Young Vic. Almost every aspect of that project presented a huge challenge, but the teamwork and sheer determination of everyone involved allowed us to create something very special. I still feel incredibly proud when I think about that time. During the run I also had the great privilege of meeting the late Hans Werner Henze. Watching his assistants helping him to his feet to receive his standing ovation was incredibly moving, and the expression of joy on his face is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I joined ENO in the first group of the Junior Company Artists in 1998, fresh-faced and naïve from music academy. We were immediately cast in full productions and learned from closely observing and working with senior artists, which was a steep learning curve! Being thrown into the deep-end was a wonderful experience though and required me to think on my feet. For example, my first day of rehearsals was as Dancairo standing my ground against a charging David Rendall who wanted to stab me (in character as Jose, I hoped!). How to deal with him? The chorus? How to be confidently butch and sexy in my scene with Carmen without looking a complete wally?
For me, that was the thrill of being a young artist at ENO. Masterclasses and lessons were gradually introduced, but it was that privilege of working closely with experienced colleagues – Barry Banks, Gerald Finley, Phillip Langridge to name but three – that was the real gold of the process. Since then, from Dancairo to Wozzeck and beyond I’ve been put in many strange and frankly bizarre situations on stage: mincing in stockings and high heels, drinking battery acid in a bunker at the end of the world, having an underwater orgy with rubber dolls, it’s all in a day’s work after those early experiences!
I have been proud to be a part of ENO since I was 16, first in the Baylis Programme, then in the first year of The Knack and then after finishing music school, as a member of the Young Artist’s Programme. The opportunity for young singers to refine their craft and gain valuable performing experience whilst working alongside the very best performers, musicians and backstage team around is the most wonderful opportunity for an emerging artist.
Over the past 13 years I have been extremely fortunate to perform many varied roles with ENO, but perhaps one of the most formative experiences as an ENO young artist was performing the role of Sister Constance in The Dialogue of the Carmelites. Being alongside Josephine Barstow, Felicity Palmer, Orla Boylan and the glorious ENO chorus was truly extraordinary. I will always cherish the memory of the final Salve Regina-trying my very best to sing beautifully whilst not bursting into tears as, one by one, the rest of the nuns had their heads chopped off!!