News & Views

We regularly feature interviews with inspiring women and parents from all areas of the opera world. Read them here or receive them directly to your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list at the bottom of the page.

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July 07, 2019

interview with Fiona Maddocks, writer and Swap'ra patron

Fiona Maddocks is one of the UK’s leading writers and commentators on classical music, and for the past decade has been chief music critic for The Observer. She founded BBC Music, and as editor established it as the world’s biggest selling classical music magazine. Fiona has worked for numerous publications as a feature writer, including The Independent, The Times, The Guardian and London Evening Standard, and has also worked extensively as a producer and presenter in radio and television. Her books include Music for Life, Harrison Birtwistle: Wild Tracks, and an acclaimed biography of the medieval composer Hildegard of Bingen (Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age), now in its fifth reprint (all published by Faber). 

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July 07, 2019

Interview with Isabella bywater, director and designer

Isabella Bywater is an award winning designer and director for Opera and Theatre. Her debut in 2013 as director/designer was Gounod’s Faust at the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg. She has since directed and designed Lucia di Lammermoor for Den Jyske Opera, La Boheme for San Diego Opera, Il Tabarro and Gianni  Schicchi for Den Norske Opera and Suor Angelica also for Den Norske Opera. Isabella has designed sets and costumes for over 50 productions both in the UK and internationally. As a designer she has collaborated with many directors, including Jonathan Miller, with whom she worked for over 17 years. She is also a sculptor and studied philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London.

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) and Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) . She has also sung for English National Operas, 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).

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September 10, 2018

interview with mezzo-soprano, Karen Cargill

Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and was the winner of the 2002 Kathleen Ferrier Award.  Karen has sung major roles for The Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Metropolitan Opera, New York; Deutsche Opera, Berlin and Glyndebourne Festival with roles including Waltraute Gotterdämmerung, Brangaene Tristan and Isolde; Mère Marie Dialogues of the Carmelites and Judith Bluebeard’s Castle. Karen appears regularly at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival.  We interviewed Karen in July.

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September 10, 2018

interview with gillian moore MBE, director of music at Southbank centre

Gillian Moore was born in Glasgow, and was Education Officer at the London Sinfonietta for ten years before becoming Head of Education at the Southbank Centre, where she developed an approach that integrated educational and artistic activity. Gillian was awarded an MBE 
for her services to British music in 1994, and returned as Artistic Director of the London Sinfonietta in 1998. Gillian is now Director of Music at the Southbank Centre, having been Head of Contemporary Culture and Head of Classical Music at the organisation. She also writes and broadcasts regularly about music. 

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September 10, 2018

interview with cheryl barker and peter coleman-wright

Two of Australia's most formidable and well-known singers, soprano, Cheryl Barker and baritone, Peter Coleman-Wright have been juggling parenthood alongside an international opera career for years.  Cheryl is an internationally acclaimed soprano, particularly noted for her Tosca and Cio-Cio San, and Peter, a champion of new works as well as a regular in baritone roles around the world. Both have worked in every major opera house and  this interview, they share their insight in to how it has worked and how things have changed - or not.

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July 28, 2018

Gala concert artist:
soprano, Sarah Tynan with Leigh Melrose, baritone

British soprano Sarah Tynan is well established as one of the most exciting and versatile singers of her generation. Equally comfortable in baroque, classical and contemporary music she is also increasingly in demand for her work in the bel canto repertoire and has recently had great successes with recent Rossini role debuts of Rosina and Fiorilla. She works regularly with many of the leading orchestras, opera companies and ensembles in the UK, Europe and further afield.  Sarah teams with Leigh Melrose to talk about their experiences as parents in the industry.

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July 28, 2018

Gala Concert Artist:
Soprano, Gillian Keith

British-Canadian soprano, Gillian Keith has emerged as one of the country's leading lyric sopranos. Her superb voice and musicianship are at home both on the opera stage and on the oratorio and concert platform.  Gillian made her Royal Opera debut as Zerbinetta in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos. Celebrated roles include Poppea (L’Incoronazione di Poppea), The Woodbird (Siegfried), and Pretty Polly (Punch and Judy).    Recent projects include Mark-Anthony Turnage (Coraline - Royal Opera) and Tom Randle’s (Love Me To Death), Tête-á-Tête Festival.

Alice Farnham, Conductor

July 13, 2018

Gala concert

artist:
Catherine Wyn-rogers
Mezzo-soprano

Legendary British Mezzo-soprano, Catherine Wyn-Rogers studied at the Royal College of Music. She appears regularly at the BBC Proms, Wigmore Hall, Edinburgh and Aldeburgh festivals. She has performed with Slatkin, Haitink, Andrew Davis, Colin Davis, Rozhdestvensky, Mackerras, Norrington and Mehta, and has recorded extensively for the major labels. Catherine is a  regular guest of the Bayerische Staatsoper, English National Opera, The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Salzburg and Glyndebourne festivals, and many others.

Anita Watson, soprano

July 13, 2018

Gala Concert Artist:
Anna Devin,

Soprano

Irish soprano Anna Devin was a Jette Parker Young Artist at The Royal Opera, Covent Garden and is widely admired as an engaging actress as well as bel canto singer.  In the current season, Anna debuts at Madrid’s Teatro Real as Celia in Lucio Silla, the title role in Semele at the Karlsruhe Handel festival, Tusnelda in Arminio at the International Handel Festival in Göttingen, Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare with Early Opera Company and returns as Michal in Saul at the 2018 Glyndebourne Festival.

Alice Farnham, Conductor

July 13, 2018

Gala concert artist:
Jessica duchen, author and Librettist

Jessica Duchen is a freelance music journalist, novelist, librettist and playwright whose work appears frequently in the Guardian and BBC Music Magazine, among other publications. Jessica is the author of the biography, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, published by Phaidon, and her Classical Music Blog is ranked among the world's top blogs of its kind.  In collaboration with Roxanna Panufnik, Jessica wrote the libretto for the opera, Silver Birch. 

Anita Watson, soprano

July 13, 2018

Gala Concert Artist:
mary bevan, Soprano

Mary Bevan is well-known to UK audiences. In the 2017/18 season, Bevan debuted at the Teatro Real in Madrid as Rose Maurrant in Weill’s Street Scene, and sang the title role in Turnage’s new opera Coraline for The Royal Opera at the Barbican. In concert, Bevan joined the OAE as Mary in Sally Beamish’s The Judas Passion in the UK and on tour in the USA; Next season she will perform with Royal Danish Opera, BBC Symphony, CBSO, BBC Proms, and more.

June 7, 2018

interview with rosalind plowright, 
 Mezzo-soprano

Rosalind Plowright is one of the most celebrated artists of our time. Her career spans more than 35 years. She was acclaimed as one of the world’s great spinto sopranos specialising in roles such as Medée, Alceste and Norma as well as the great Verdi and Puccini heroines. Rosalind Plowright has sung at nearly all the international opera houses such as the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Paris Opera and  Vienna State Opera

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June 7, 2018

interview with nicholas lester, baritone

Australian baritone Nicholas Lester studied at the Adelaide Conservatorium of Music and was a State Opera of South Australia Young Artist. After moving to the UK, Nicholas studied at The National Opera Studio. Nicholas has performed roles for many prominent companies, including Danish National Opera, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera Holland Park, English Touring Opera and New Zealand Opera.
He is a father of two.

Alice Farnham, Conductor

June 11, 2018

Gala Concert Artist:
Alice Farnham, 
Conductor

Alice Farnham is one of Britain's leading female conductors.  She enjoys a growing international reputation, particularly in the field of opera conducting.  She is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Women Conductors with the Royal Philharmonic Society - an award-winning programme to encourage women into the conducting profession.

Anita Watson, soprano

June 11, 2018

interview with Anita Watson, Soprano

Award winning Australian/British soprano Anita Watson performs worldwide in opera, recitals and concerts.  Anita was a Jette Parker Young Artist at The Royal Opera.  Most recently she has sung Anne Trulove for Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Pamina for Welsh National Opera, Governess for Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse and Teatro La Fenice in Venice and Donna Anna for Reisopera in the Netherlands.

Alice Farnham, Conductor

June 18, 2018

Gala concert artist:
Francesca Gilpin, Director

Francesca works as an Opera Director nationally and internationally.  In 2001 she set up Opera by Definition and was its Artistic Director for ten years. In 2017 she was on the faculty of the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices in America, coaching young professional singers in stagecraft.  She now mostly works as a Revival director having revived productions for companies such as Glyndebourne and ROH both here and abroad.

Anita Watson, soprano

June 18, 2018

Gala Concert Artist:
Janis Kelly, Soprano

Widely-recognised as one of the great singing actresses of her generation‚ Janis Kelly has appeared at many of the World’s leading Opera Houses‚ including The Royal Opera and Metropolitan Opera. She is also a prominent voice on concert platforms and in Hollywood films. Glasgow born, she was a prize-winning student at the RSAMD and the RCM where she teaches and was recently honoured as the Chair in Vocal Performance as a titled Professor. 

Glyndebourne Opera Chorus

May 26, 2018

gala concert artist:
Jennifer Johnston, Mezzo-soprano

A former BBC New Generation Artist, celebrated British mezzo-soprano, Jennifer Johnston is a graduate of Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music, and is the recipient of numerous awards. She is particularly associated with the Bayerische Staatsoper, and has also appeared in opera at the Teatro alla Scala, Salzburg Festival, Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Opera de Lille, Beijing Festival, Baltic Sea Festival, Scottish Opera and Opera North. 

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May 26, 2018

interview with soprano, Lucy Crowe

Born in Staffordshire, Lucy Crowe studied at the Royal Academy of Music, to which she has recently been appointed a Fellow.  With repertoire ranging from Purcell, Handel and Mozart to Donizetti’s Adina and Verdi’s Gilda she has sung with opera companies throughout the world, including the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, the Glyndebourne Festival, English National Opera, the Teatro Real Madrid, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Bavarian State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera

June 1, 2018

gala concert artist:
helen sherman, Mezzo-soprano

Born in Australia, mezzo-soprano Helen Sherman studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Royal Northern College of Music, where she was the first student to receive the International Artists Diploma in opera. In 2011 Helen represented Australia at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and has established herself as a much-sought-after mezzo-soprano in the UK and Australia, both in recital and opera.

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June 1, 2018

interview with DAvid Butt Phillip, Tenor

British tenor David Butt Philip is an alumnus of the Jette Parker Young Artists Program, Royal Opera House. In 2014, shortly after leaving the program he made a hugely acclaimed English National Opera debut as Rodolfo in La bohème. Recent debuts as Erik in Der fliegende Hollander, Froh in Das Rheingold and Grigoriy in Boris Godunov have attracted serious attention and have established him as one of the exciting young Heldentenors Britain has to offer today.

Glyndebourne Opera Chorus

May 19, 2018

gala concert artist:
soprano, rebecca bottone

Rebecca studied at the Royal Academy of Music and, since then, has appeared at many major opera houses, including The Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Aix-en-Provence Festival . She returns to ENO in 2019 to sing Queen Tye in Philip Glass's opera, Akhnaten

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May 19, 2018

interview with stage director, orpha phelan

Orpha Phelan has directed opera nationally and internationally for the last fifteen years. A favourite with Scandinavian audiences, Orpha has recently made her debut in Denmark with the Royal Danish Opera with her new production of Powder Her Face.

Glyndebourne Opera Chorus

May 8, 2018

gala concert artist:
mezzo-soprano, rosie aldridge,

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.

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May 8, 2018

gala concert artist:

Roxanna panufnik, composer

Roxanna Panufnik studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music and, since then, has written a wide range of pieces – opera, ballet, music theatre, choral works, orchestral and chamber compositions, and music for film and television – which are performed all over the world.  

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April 1, 2018

Interview with director, Poppy Burton-morgan

Poppy Burton-Morgan is a writer and director. She founded Metta Theatre in 2005 and has directed all of their 34 productions to date. 
It's 'really on us as directors to make sure that we’re re-telling these stories in a way that resonates with our own times.'

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April 1, 2018

Interview with mezzo-soprano, Yvonne Howard

Much-loved mezzo-soprano, and  ‘one of the finest singing actresses this country has produced’, Yvonne Howard, reflects on her career so far and shares her wisdom in our latest interview:  'Treat your colleagues with respect and kindness. Treat yourself in the same way..'

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March 22, 2018

Interview with Conductor, Holly Mathieson

Rising star, Holly Mathieson shares her wisdom about a career that is possibly the most out of balance in gender terms in this extraordinarily honest interview.  'The road to this career is precipitous and emotionally scarring for even the most entitled young white man'

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March 22, 2018

Interview with artist manager,

Maria Mot

Maria Mot is the Associate Director in the Vocal and Opera Department at Intermusica.  Maria has always been supportive of artists who choose to become parents and in this interview, shares an insight in to her own experience after becoming a mother six months ago.

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March 15, 2018

Interview with soprano, Anne Sophie Duprels

French soprano and favourite on the UK stage, Anne Sophie Duprels shares her struggles and triumphs as a mother for the entire duration of her career in an unusual and wonderful industry.  

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March 15, 2018

Interview with artist manager,

Sue Nicholls

Sue Nicholls is an Artist Manager with the agency, Hazard Chase.  A parent herself, she has always been supportive of artists who are parents: 'This business is volatile and careers can be very short, even at the highest level.  Your family is with you for life.'

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March 15, 2018

Interview with baritone, Simon Keenlyside and dancer, Zenaida Yanowsky

Husband and wife, baritone Simon Keenlyside and dancer (recently retired as a principal of The Royal Ballet) Zenaida Yanowsky are two performers of legendary status with two children. In this interview, they offer an insight in to the challenges of family life as two parents operating at the absolute top of their art form.

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March 8, 2018

Interview with soprano, Louise Alder

Soprano Louise Alder has been described as 'the brightest lyric soprano of the younger generation' (The Arts Desk) . She represented England in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in June 2017 and won best Young Singer at the International Opera Awards 2017.

We asked her some questions about her career so far...

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March 8, 2018

Interview with conductor, Jessica Cottis

An early wrist injury prompted Jessica to move from playing to organ studying law... until she was mesmerised by opera and found her true calling!  Jessica shares her experiences and observations from within the opera and classical music industry in this wonderful interview.

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March 8, 2018

Interview with mezzo-soprano, Christine Rice

Legendary British mezzo-soprano, Christine Rice has performed across Europe at venues including Covent Garden, the Bavarian State Opera, the Frankurt Opera, the Teatro Real and the English National Opera.  She is also a mother of four and shares her wisdom and vast experience in this candid interview.

February 19, 2018

SWAP'ra Featured on BBC Music Matters

Team members, Anna Patalong, Madeleine Pierard and Kitty Whately were interviewed by Sara Mohr-Pietsch for BBC Music Matters

February 16, 2018

SWAP'ra launches to support women and parents working in opera

SWAP'ra was featured in The Stage on 16 February, 2018

Glyndebourne Opera Chorus

May 1, 2018

Chorus Feature: Interview with four full-time opera chorus members

Choruses form the backbone of the music-making on stage and have a unique perspective as full-time singers attached to one company at a time and often on stage for multiple consecutive nights in several different productions. 

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May 1, 2018

Stage Management feature: Rebecca Moffatt

Rebecca Moffatt was a stage manager for several years, working for ETO, OHP, BYO and the UK conservatoires, before becoming Artistic Administrator at English Touring Opera. She is now a full-time mother to her son, Finn with her husband, also a stage technician.

©2018 BY SWAP'RA - SUPPORTING WOMEN AND PARENTS IN OPERA.