Can you tell me about some of your career highlights for anyone who may not be familiar with you work?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the country’s best opera houses, along with some wonderful houses in Europe and beyond. For me, some of the highlights would be performing the role of Iphis in Welsh National Opera’s production of Handel’s Jephtha; being Welsh, WNO has always been a very important company to me, and it was an honour doing my professional debut at the Wales Millennium Centre. Another highlight would be singing the role of The Blue Fairy in Pinocchio at Opera North; a wonderful opera by Jonathan Dove directed by Martin Duncan and conducted by David Parry. I was recently lucky enough to work with the same production team on Offenbach’s operetta, Vert Vert at Garsington Opera. Other highlights would be singing at La Monnaie, the Aix en Provence festival, and performing the role of the Governess in Britten’s Turn of the Screw in Mexico City.
Tell me about the story of Alice In Wonderland and what attracted you to the role you are playing.
Alice is probably one of the most iconic of children’s literary characters, and when I was asked to take the role in Opera Holland Park’s production, I jumped at the opportunity. It’s a story we’re all familiar with, but what the composer and librettist have managed to do with this opera is piece together some of the most famous parts of the Alice in Wonderland story with those of Through the Looking Glass. It’s a magical journey following Alice and her friends through the beguiling worlds of the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the Red Queen, to name but a few characters.
How does this production differ from others that people may be familiar with?
One of the things which is most wonderful about this production is the fact that it takes place outside on the Yucca Lawn at Holland Park. There are five sets in four different locations around the lawn, beautifully and creatively designed by Leslie Travers, and the audience is encouraged to move around each set – meaning they are literally going on Alice’s journey with her through Wonderland. It’s not easy keeping a young audience’s attention for an hour and a quarter, but with this production, they are never seated in one position for longer than 15 minutes. As a result, the children get so excited and end up running from scene to scene to see what happens next. It really is a wonderful experience seeing the reaction of the children – they are completely engrossed in the story and the characters.
There is also an EP being released to accompany this show called Wonderland Blues. How does this recording complement the show?
Alice sings a beautiful song in the opera called ‘I Flew High’, and we recorded it last year in time for the premiere. We were very lucky to get to number 3 in the iTunes chart, which showed us that people really liked the music. We recently recorded another of the opera’s showstoppers, called the Wonderland Blues. People are always coming up to us asking if there’s a recording of the opera, as their children leave Holland Park singing some of the tunes from the piece.
Have you ever had any funny/disastrous on-stage experiences?
I’ve been doing this job professionally for nearly fifteen years, and so as you can imagine, there have been a lot of funny on-stage experiences – way too many to list here! I’ve been lucky enough not to have too many disasters however one I do remember vividly is of getting my dress caught in the wings as I was walking on stage to sing a duet with my colleague at Opera North. I was completely stuck, so had to carry on singing from the side of the stage as about three of the backstage crew carefully unpicked my dress form the set. The worst part of it was that the dress had cost thousands of pounds to make – needless to say, I felt very guilty!
If you were going to name a pet after a musical theatre character, what would you choose?
Unfortunately, the demands of my job along with travelling and commitments abroad mean that I am not able to have a pet, but if I did, I think I would probably name it after Curly from Oklahoma, as that was one of the first shows I performed in with the Youth Opera when I was a teenager
Thanks for having Tea with Wilma
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is playing at Opera Holland Park on various dates until 2 August 2014. Click here for more information.