May 8, 2018
Interview with Rosie Aldridge, Mezzo-soprano
Mezzo soprano Rosie Aldridge is a graduate of the Benjamin Britten International Opera School at the Royal College of Music, and was a Jerwood Young Artist at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2010. Rosie is a member of the Ensemble at the Wiener Staatsoper (2016-2018) and has appeared at numerous European houses.
What are you up to at the moment?
I am currently singing Aksinya in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at the Royal Opera House. It is a stunning Richard Jones production with two of my favourite colleagues Eva Maria Westbroek and Brandon Jovanovich.
What do you love most about your job?
The challenges it presents: processing complex characters; learning different languages; and the pressure of working to a tight schedule! I also love the people – so many big personalities and so much cultural diversity.
How long have you been juggling parenthood and your career?
My baby daughter, Beatrice, is 6 months old, so I'm new to this!
How long after having your babies did you return to singing?
When Beatrice was 4 months old, I starting rehearsing for Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. It was tough leaving her but I was very lucky to have hugely supportive colleagues and family at home.
What physical changes did you feel?
I had a caesarean and complications so it took me a while to get my stamina back. But I was surprised that the pregnancy and birth didn't seem to affect my voice. My muscles came back very quickly and I felt even more aware of my body. The challenge for me came with the physical demands of the production.
How did parenthood change your career?
Obviously, I'm at the beginning of this journey! So far, I don't feel much has changed accept that I feel more grounded in my outlook: it's helped me to balance perspective.
Do you think that being a mother has ultimately enriched your performing?
Yes, definitely. I feel a depth of emotion when performing this current role that I have never felt before; being a mother has enabled me to relate to women in a different way.
How does your child/children respond to your job?
I certainly haven't brought her to see this production as I think she would have nightmares for the rest of her life! But I sing to her all the time at home and she loves it. She's particularly fascinated when I warm up.
Has your child/children ever appeared on stage with you?
How do you manage to continue your career alongside your family commitments?
I am extremely lucky to have a hugely supportive husband and family network behind me. Without them I don't think it would be possible for me. The majority of my work is in Europe and going forward, my husband and baby girl will be travelling with me. It's an exciting prospect.
What changes do you think could realistically be made within the opera industry, to make life easier for artists with families/dependents?
Scheduling is the first thing that comes to mind. It is very hard to organise childcare when you are only informed the night before whether you are needed for rehearsal. I do appreciate that it is extremely difficult for houses to co-ordinate, but a weekly schedule would be very useful for parents.
Can you think of an example of a job where you have felt really supported by the company as a parent?
Yes, I feel the Royal Opera House have been deeply supportive and it has been such a positive and amazing first job back after having my baby.
What advice would you offer to anyone working in the opera industry is about to become a parent?
If anyone offers you help, accept immediately! Be as organised as possible – plan ahead; write lists.
Have you come up against or heard of any discrimination as a working mother?
Yes. It's disappointing but I have heard of some houses being less than accommodating/understanding. Though luckily for me, so far; so good!
Were you ever advised not to have children for the sake of your career?
Yes, but I think such advice only comes from people who lack perspective.
Aside from the challenges of working-parenthood, have you ever considered your gender to be relevant to the challenges of your job?
Yes, absolutely. At times I think the industry is in danger of focussing too much on aesthetics rather than the artform. This is a male-dominated profession and sometimes there are double-standards.
Which operatic character have you most enjoyed playing and why?
Different roles bring different challenges and interest but I loved playing the Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos. The anxiety and neurosis of this man greatly appealed to me! (I don't know what that says about me!!!)
Which novel or play by a female author would you like to see adapted for the operatic stage?
I am a Jane Austen freak and would LOVE to see Pride and Prejudice as an opera and yes, I would definitely like to play Elizabeth Bennett (or Lady Catherine de Bourgh, in a few years!).
Which woman in the opera industry most inspires you?
Eva Maria Westbroek. She will kill me for saying her and that is exactly the reason behind my choice! I have never worked with such a kind and modest woman, who is at the same time so incredibly talented. For me, opera is about the singer and the actor and she embodies this perfectly.
Do you have time for other passions and interests outside of your work and family commitments?
Sometimes! When I get the chance, I love gardening and reading. Any opportunity to potter at home is pure bliss. My husband and I love interior design and always have a project on the go!
Where would you like to be in ten years from now?
I don't like to think ahead but instead, strive to live my life in the minute. I don't always succeed at this but that's the aim!
Do you worry about balancing your career with your personal life in the future?
Yes. Particularly when Beatrice is older and will want to be at home and seeing friends and I will have to work away. But I will cross that bridge when I come to it.