image © Tim Dunk
September 10, 2018
Interview with mezzo-soprano, katie bray
Consistently earning praise for her outstanding stage presence and vocal performances, British mezzo-soprano Katie Bray has fast established herself as an artist to watch. Recent roles for Opera North include Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) and Nancy (Albert Herring). She has also sung for English National Opera (Daughter - Akhnaten and The Way Back Home), Scottish Opera (Lucilla - La Scala di seta), Garsington Opera (Zulma - L’Italiana in Algeri and Zaida - Il turco in Italia), Opera Holland Park (Mallika - Lakmé), English Touring Opera (Minerva - Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and Satirino - La Calisto) and at the Grimeborn Festival (Charlotte - Werther).
What are you up to at the moment?
I've just finished playing Zerlina in Don Giovanni at WNO, and now I am in rehearsals for Effigies of Wickedness, a collaborative project between ENO and the Gate theatre in Notting Hill.
Which operatic character have you most enjoyed playing and why?
Charlotte in Werther was a highlight, because Massenet's music is sublime, and Charlotte is such a tragic and beautiful and soulful woman. She is constantly torn between love for her family and the duty she feels towards them, and the love she has developed so quickly for Werther.
Which novel or play by a female author would you like to see adapted for the operatic stage?
Great question! An opera made up of women's poetry from the wars would be very powerful. There are some extraordinary poems from women during the world wars in a book called Scars upon my heart. An all female cast and creative team for this project would be a very powerful thing.
Which woman in the opera industry most inspires you?
Ann Murray is a constant inspiration to me.
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?
Yes, mostly to do with scheduling! It's impossible to plan ahead sometimes with our opera schedules. I'm currently only being given a schedule every day, so planning anything is a nightmare!
Have you ever considered your gender to be relevant to the challenges of your job?
Absolutely. Too much to explain here without writing paragraphs and paragraphs! But yes.
What do you love most about your job? What would you change about your job?
I love the music-making, the creativity, the constant challenges and changes and new experiences. I find being away from home for long periods of time very hard sometimes, and I sometimes struggle with difficult colleagues who focus rather too much on themselves!
What are your main interests and passions outside of work?
Exercise, seeing my friends and loved ones, cooking, WINE!
Have you ever been advised not to have a family if you wanted a career?
Do you think women’s career progressions differ from men’s?
Yes, but perhaps not as much in the world of opera as in other fields. I am however aware of the pay gap in our career, which is something we need to address.
Where would you like to be in ten years from now?
Still singing lots of varied things - opera, recitals, cabaret, Baroque, all sorts! 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.
Do you worry about balancing your career with your personal life in the future?
Yes, totally. We want to have children but I am anxious about when to try to do that, as I don't yet feel I could take much time off for various reasons, and I would be worried about not having work to go back to afterwards. But we are very keen to try to make a family.