image © Sebastien Jourdan
July 03, 2019
Interview with soprano, caroline macphie
Caroline MacPhie has performed roles in repertoire from Monteverdi to Max Richter with companies such as Royal Opera House, Opéra de Lyon, Opéra National de Lorraine, Opera North, Scottish Opera and Silent Opera. A former YCAT artist, in recital she has performed at Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Opéra de Lyon and at the New Paths, Oxford Lieder, Ryedale and Two Moors Festivals. Caroline is committed to promoting the work of female composers and her critically acclaimed album, ‘Love said to me...’ with pianist Joseph Middleton included commissions by Cheryl Frances-Hoad and Rhian Samuel as well as songs by Elizabeth Maconchy and Muriel Herbert.
What are you up to at the moment?
Role preparation for my next contract, auditions and recital work
Which operatic character have you most enjoyed playing and why?
Susanna – it’s a role that embodies so much: friendship, love, wit, intrigue….
Which novel or play by a female author would you like to see adapted for the operatic stage?
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
Which woman in the opera industry most inspires you?
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?
I think companies (particularly well established organisations) could offer substantially more support, from a list of verified nannies/ babysitters to crèche facilities. Generally speaking, there needs to be a greater acceptance of artists with children. I know some female colleagues who now deliberately do not broadcast the fact they have children as they have felt that this this gone against them in the past.
Have you ever considered your gender to be relevant to the challenges of your job?
I think that the industry is certainly more discerning of women rather than men in terms of image. For example, it is far more acceptable for a man to carry a few extra pounds than his female counterpart. At the very top of the ladder I like to think that it really is the voice that counts – one rung down and image really does play a major role in terms of casting and I would argue that the benchmark is higher for women.
What do you love most about your job? What would you change about your job?
The variety of the work and the fact you are always testing yourself and continually improving. On the other hand it can be a very solitary profession – which is why groups such as SWAP’ra are so important – there is so much competition that there isn’t enough ‘sharing’ within the industry. But we are definitely stronger together!
What are your main interests and passions outside of work?
Sport, cooking, spending quality time with friends and family.
Have you ever been advised not to have a family if you wanted a career?
Yes! By a number of people, both explicitly and also implicitly. But I know both are possible (with a lot of hard work and planning!)
Do you think women’s career progressions differ from men’s?
I think this is more linked to voice type rather than gender. And as in most careers I think that women tend to make greater professional sacrifices once children are in the equation.
Where would you like to be in ten years from now?
I would like to have a balanced career divided between opera and concert work and philanthropic projects that promote opera on a wider level. I’m also passionate about making the recital form much more accessible.
Do you worry about balancing your career with your personal life in the future?
Absolutely. I want to have a family but I know that this will be far from easy given the nomadic nature of the business.