Happy New Year all! I can't wait for what 2019 will hold. We kicked off in style with a run of performances of La Traviata, and for the rest of January, I've been changing gear slightly and immersing myself in the songs of Brahms, Wolf, Debussy, Ravel, Charles Ives and Wilhelm Killmayer. In December I received the exciting news that my duo partner Florent Mourier and I will be one of the 26 duos taking part in the Das Lied competition in Heidelberg this year. The competition runs from 6th-10th February at Theater Heidelberg, and while of course we hope that we'll get as far as we can through the rounds, the experience of spending so much time with these sublime and complex songs has been its own reward. More updates to follow – either here or on my new professional Instagram channel, @grace.durham.mezzo, where I'll be sharing news of our progress! You can also watch the competition live on YouTube or on the Das Lied Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/InternationalSongCompetition/.
The 2018/19 season is well under way in Dresden, and it's been an eventful one so far! We've had a run of seven Figaro performances under the baton of the inspiring Kristiina Poska, premiered Calixto Bieito's new production of Moses und Aron with Sir John Tomlinson, and as Young Artists have been lucky enough to have the stage all to ourselves for a recital of Richard Strauss. I've also been busy behind the scenes this month – preparing for my role début as Flora in La Traviata, which begins on 23rd November – but also in the recording studio, with new videos of both arias and art songs available on my videos page to add to the wonderful new portraits taken by Clare Park over the summer.
It's been a long time, and a very busy few months! I've been delighted to make my débuts at the Semperoper in Le nozze di Figaro, Rigoletto and the house's new production of Die tote Stadt, and am very much looking forward to the two that are still to come, Die Zauberflöte and Carmen. There have been plenty of other fun opportunities as well, from a Liederabend celebrating female composers (possibly the only time I've ever walked on stage with a golf club, in Rachel Peters' Ethel Smyth Plays Golf In Limbo) to a Valentine's Day concert in Bad Elster, a town that is the living embodiment of the Grand Budapest Hotel.
I can't wait for next season, details of which are now available on my Schedule page, as well as on my Semperoper artist page (link below). I'll be reprising the roles of Cherubino, Zweite Dame, Paggio and Lucienne, and making four new role débuts, including Flora Bervoix (La traviata) and Clare in the German première of Philip Venables' 4.48 Psychosis. For all detailed information, updates and ticket sales, please visit my Semperoper artist page: https://www.semperoper.de/ensemble/personen/peid/grace-durham/5691.html
I've got a lovely bit of news to announce this month! On Sunday 2nd July, I had the very enjoyable experience of competing in the Dean & Chadlington Summer Music Festival Singing Competition, and was delighted to win both the Main Prize and the Audience Prize. I was singing some of my favourite repertoire – Ravel, Britten and Rossini – and was happy to have the opportunity to perform again with my duo partner, Edward Liddall. Congratulations also to Kieron-Connor Valentine, who was the very deserving winner of the Promising Singer prize, and to all the other finalists who were a pleasure to meet and perform alongside.
I've also been able to release full details of my opera performances at the Semperoper Dresden for the 2017/18 season. There will be more dates added over the course of the year, as I'll be singing in plenty of concerts and recitals along the way, but for now, full details of all my roles can be found on my Schedule page.
It's been a packed second term at the National Opera Studio, and I've got lots of updates to share. First and foremost is a wonderful piece of news I have only just received: as of August 2017, I will be joining the Junges Ensemble of the Semperoper Dresden for the next two years! The Ensemble is a great Young Artists' Programme designed to give up-and-coming singers their first experiences on the main stage, and I'll be taking on some very exciting roles, including Mercédès in Carmen, Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte and (my favourite) Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro. I'll be able to release full details and performance dates later on, so watch this space! There will be a German version of this site appearing very soon too...
We are also coming to the end of the National Opera Studio training programme, which has given me some wonderful opportunities and allowed me to explore roles I never thought I'd touch at this stage of my career! During our Scottish Opera residency, I was lucky enough to sing Charlotte's letter scene from Werther, and at Welsh National Opera next month I will be singing Carmen for the first time, as well as Prince Charmant in Massenet's Cendrillon. Full details, as ever, are on my schedule page.
Here's a little piece of exciting news: at long last, I now have video clips on my website! I had a very enjoyable recording session with my duo partner Edward Liddall at the National Opera Studio, and was also extremely lucky to discover the work of the wonderful Bobby Williams, who recorded us. He's lovely, professional, relaxed, and got us great results with a spectacularly quick turnaround. You can find more of his work here.
Happy New Year all! It's been a great first term at the National Opera Studio, and I can't wait for what the next few months will hold. Our first term was a busy one with some very exciting opportunities; I sang my first Dvořák Gypsy Songs in a Wandsworth Wednesdays recital, celebrated the 500th anniversary of Ariosto's Orlando furioso in Cambridge, and finished the term with Words and Mozart, a programme combining spoken theatre with scenes from Mozart's operas, first at Opera North and then at the China Exchange in London.
This term, we'll be heading up for a residency at Scottish Opera, where I'll be working on Charlotte in Werther and my core role, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. I'll also be back in France, first for a recital with the wonderful soprano Marie Perbost at the Opéra Grand Avignon, and then in Saint-Jean-de-Luz for the Printemps de l'Académie Ravel. Full details, as always, can be found on my schedule page.
One more thing: over Christmas, I received lots of very kind messages regarding a tiny cameo appearance I made on the BBC's Close to the Enemy, playing a young opera singer. To those of you who enjoyed the performance: thank you, but it is not actually my voice you can hear! I was approached during filming to step in for the original singer on the soundtrack, who was sadly unable to film that day, and is mistakenly not credited at the end of the programme – so as far as I'm concerned, the role is acting only. I've been in touch with the producers of the drama to find out who the original singer is, and will update you all when I know, so that those of you looking for recordings will be able to get in touch with her!
So, after the close of a wonderful season at Glyndebourne, I am refreshed and ready to start the year as a National Opera Studio Young Artist 2016/17. There will be plenty of opportunities to hear us in recitals and opera scenes throughout the year, so be sure to check my Schedule page for more details!
I'm also excited to announce that after four wonderful days of rehearsing in the French Basque Country with pianist Philippe Biros, we will be presenting our recital programme "L'invitation au voyage" at the Les Journées Ravel festival in Montfort-L'Amaury on 9th October. It's a programme close to my heart, travelling through France, Italy and Greece into Asia with Ravel, Duparc, Fauré and Chausson before returning to the British Isles through the eyes of Ravel, Britten and contemporary British composers. I'm also very pleased to be repeating this programme for a fundraising event at Vernon Ellis' house in aid of the wonderful musical charity Jessie's Fund. Full details can be found on my Schedule page.
This week, we said goodbye to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at Glyndebourne, and tonight, the curtain goes up on Le nozze di Figaro! It's been a busy few weeks, as we've also been in the rehearsal room with Laurent Pelly and Stéphanie d'Oustrac for the new production of Berlioz' Béatrice et Bénédict. It is a real privilege to work on the newest project of such an inspiring director, and we can't wait for opening night on 23rd July.
Having had to withdraw from some of my April engagements for personal reasons (the Kathleen Ferrier Award semi-final, the Shakespeare celebration at RFH and the Printemps de l'Académie Ravel 2016), I'm doubly excited to announce that I've got a few new recital dates in the diary too. I'll be repeating "L'invitation au voyage", my recital at the Les Journées Ravel festival in Montfort-L'Amaury, France, in London in November – and will return to St-Jean-de-Luz for the Printemps de l'Académie Ravel 2017.
Three weeks into the rehearsal period of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at Glyndebourne, and I have two more pieces of great news to share. The first is that on 23rd April, Shakespeare's 400th anniversary, the Glyndebourne Chorus will be taking part in a special Shakespeare celebration with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall. The repertoire will include the version for sixteen soloists of Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music, and I have been chosen as one of eight Glyndebourne singers taking part, alongside Kate Royal, Felicity Palmer, Iestyn Davies and Simon Keenlyside, among others! It promises to be a wonderful concert; more information can be found on my Schedule page.
The second piece of news that I am delighted to be able to announce is that I have been selected as a National Opera Studio Young Artist for 2016-17. It will be such a privilege to be able to work with such experienced practitioners and colleagues in such a stimulating environment, and I can't wait to begin!
Another piece of exciting news: I am thrilled to announce that I have been chosen as one of twelve semi-finalists for the Kathleen Ferrier Awards 2016. My programme on 27th April will include The isle is full of noises..., a world première by Scottish Opera's Composer in Residence Lliam Paterson, as well as works by Poulenc, Handel and Meyerbeer. If I am lucky enough to sing in the finals, I'll be performing songs and arias by Ravel, Jonathan Dove, Strauss, Rosenthal and Rossini. More details can be found here. Happy Easter all!
I am delighted to announce that I am the winner of the Bruce Millar Gulliver Prize 2016. It is an immense honour to be the recipient of such a prestigious award, and I couldn't hope for a better way to conclude my time as an Opera student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. This term has been full of wonderful opportunities, from my first performances as Dorabella in Così fan tutte to recitals of Wolf and Clara Schumann, and a return to Bach's St Matthew Passion – and I am very excited to be moving on to my second season in the Glyndebourne Chorus.
Since I got back to Glasgow at the end of September, I've had some really wonderful opportunities. The most recent - and probably the best! - has been singing in the Wigmore Hall for the first time, as a finalist in the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards. I was really grateful to be awarded Second Prize, and doubly happy for my duo partner Edward Liddall, whose fantastically sensitive and intelligent playing was recognised with a joint Accompanists' Prize. It was a real honour to perform there, and I hope it will be the first of many more!
Earlier on this month, I was also lucky enough to be asked to perform at Dumfries House, for a small gathering of about 30 guests from around the world, including Prince Charles. It was a real pleasure to sing for someone not only so distinguished, but also genuinely warm, receptive and supportive of young artists at the beginning of their careers. It was an experience I won't forget.
Back to Glasgow now, where production rehearsals for Così fan tutte are in full swing! I'll be performing the role of Dorabella on 16th and 22nd January - tickets are already selling fast, so get yours quickly!
Welcome to my new-look website! Feel free to take a look around – I hope you like it.
It's been a busy and exciting summer. After my first season at Glyndebourne, where I sang in the chorus of David McVicar's new production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail under the baton of Robin Ticciati, I headed to St-Jean-de-Luz, France, for two weeks of intensive French repertoire study with soprano Mireille Delunsch at the Académie Internationale de Musique Maurice Ravel. To study the music of one of my favourite composers in the town where he was born is an experience that will stay with me for a long time to come. I was lucky enough to perform both Ravel's Shéhérazade and Visions nocturnes, a chamber work by invited composer Thierry Escaich – and I was thrilled to be awarded the "Grand Prix Académie Ravel", which means that I'll be back to sing in their April recital series.
Not long after that, I was back in France again, this time for the inaugural Jeunes Espoirs competition at the Opéra Grand Avignon. Another great experience, which ended with my singing Rosenthal's La souris d'Angleterre – essentially a song about Brits abroad! – and winning the Audience Prize and the Prix Banque Chaix. It was an absolute joy to sing there, and I hope I'll be back soon!