ENO Harewood Artist Rhian Lois chats with the Opera Awards Foundation’s Sarah Noble about debuts, professional development and her biggest role yet.
It’s been quite a year for you. What have been the highlights?
It’s been a huge year. I’m about to become a Mam (as we say in Wales) which is my most exciting role to date! In terms of professional highlights, the biggest was my American debut in Santa Fe, singing Zerlina in Don Giovanni. Santa Fe is an incredibly special company, and it was a debut I shall always cherish. Another highlight was the Figaro double bill at Welsh National Opera. I sang Barbarina in Le Nozze Di Figaro and was called to sing Susanna for one show. I had such a blast on that stage singing one of my dream roles. I also sang Angelika in Elena Langer’s Figaro gets a Divorce. It was an intense rehearsal period, but truly rewarding and thrilling.
You received an Opera Awards Foundation bursary in 2014. What impact did that have on your professional development?
During 2013 I was receiving lessons from the renowned Marlena Malas. We both felt I’d made big progress in a short time, and I knew I couldn’t let this go. Marlena lives in New York, so I had to travel. Because of the Opera Awards Foundation I was able to have six lessons in a week. I still listen to those lessons today and get so much out of them.
Schemes like the Opera Awards Foundation bursaries are crucial for aspiring artists. Opera is an incredibly difficult industry to break into, and lessons and coaching can be very expensive. Any assistance performers can receive to for these can only enrich them as artists.
What advice would you give to a young singer figuring out their next steps?
Listen to the experienced people in this industry. Take their advice, but trust your gut instinct too. Never stop training, because there’s always something new to learn and discover.
But the biggest advice of all is LIVE! Go to the places you want to visit, do the things you’ve always wanted to do, spend time with loved ones. All these things make you a better artist, as life experiences add so much to who we are as individuals, and what we bring to the stage.
What future plans can you reveal?
Without breaking any embargoes, I can tell you that after I give birth I will return to WNO to sing Adele in Die Fledermaus which I can’t wait for! The 2017/18 Season is a very busy one for me. I will make my debut at Grand Théâtre de Genève, return to WNO, and sing one of my dream roles at ENO. In between all of this, I simply can’t wait to be a mother!
Rhian will perform alongside major international stars at the 2017 International Opera Awards taking place at the London Coliseum on Sunday 7 May 2017.