British mezzo-soprano and singer to watch, Katie Bray won the audience prize at the 2019 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and has appeared with ENO, Opera North, Garsington Opera, OHP and Scottish Opera.
10 September 2018
image © Tim Dunk
S: What are you up to at the moment?
KB: I’m just getting back to performing regularly after taking a big break to have our lovely boy, Harry.
S: Which operatic character have you most enjoyed playing and why?
KB: Charlotte in Werther was a highlight, because Massenet's music is sublime and a thrill to sing, and Charlotte is such a beautiful and soulful woman. She is torn between the love and duty she feels towards her family, and the love she has developed so quickly for Werther. I hope to play her many times in my career.
S: Which novel or play by a female author would you like to see adapted for the operatic stage?
KB: An opera made up of women's poetry from the wars would be very powerful. There are some extraordinary poems in a book called Scars upon my heart. An all female cast and creative team for this project would be a very powerful thing.
S: Which woman in the opera industry most inspires you?
KB: Ann Murray is a constant inspiration to me.
S: In a business where there is always a plentiful supply of artists ready and willing, do you think changes should be made to make the industry more inclusive for artists with families and/or dependants?
KB: Advance scheduling is always greatly appreciated, particularly now that I have a baby. It’s also really important for opera companies/theatres/recital halls to have private spaces for breastfeeding mothers, and/or their partners to come along to look after their babies. I’ve found some places are brilliant about these things, and others haven’t considered it at all. If we are to get ourselves back to work with young kids, we need a few things in place to make this possible. I think more opera companies should also consider having a crèche for working parents as this could help so many of us to get back to work calmly and happily, so we can also give our best in performance.
S: Have you ever considered your gender to be relevant to the challenges of your job?
KB: Less so now that I’m older and more experienced. I had some challenging situations to deal with as a young performer, but I feel the industry is changing for the better, and I think I’m also a little more confident and less likely to be put in such situations now.
S: What do you love most about your job? What would you change about your job?
KB: I love the music-making, the creativity, the constant vocal, physical and emotional challenges, and the people. I find being away from home really tough at the moment, with a very young baby, but I try to take my family with me as much as possible.
If I could change something about my job, I would like there to be some protection for us if we need to cancel due to illness. We are very vulnerable in this way - no gig means no money - and this is a very difficult part of our job.
S: What are your main interests and passions outside of work?
KB: Walking, gardening, seeing loved ones, cooking. And my biggest passion of all now is being a mother to Harry and to our springer spaniel, Stella!
S: Have you ever been advised not to have a family if you wanted a career?
S: Do you think women’s career progressions differ from men’s?
KB: Yes, and I suspect this is particularly the case for mothers.
S: Where would you like to be in ten years from now?
KB: Still singing lots - opera, recitals, cabaret. I need to be busy and creative, and would love to be given the chance to do bigger and more challenging roles as my career continues. I also hope very much to feel I’m doing well as a mother and perhaps even to have another baby…or another two!
S: Do you worry about balancing your career with your personal life in the future?
KB: Yes, but I realise now, more than ever, that family is by far the most important thing. I love my job, but for me, nothing can top being a mum.