by Karine Hetherington
What is your nationality?
I was born in London to French and German parents, so I’d say I’m European!
Tell us a bit about your childhood. Do you come from a musical family?
I come from a family of music lovers but not professionals. My brother however is also a musician and produces electronic music on his label Troy Town. I’ve always loved everything expressive and artistic and my childhood was split mostly between ballet and music. I danced several times a week at the West London School of Dance and on weekends at the Royal Ballet School.
Music was just as important to me though. I started learning the violin when I was very young and I sang in choirs and loved singing the solos. I had a music scholarship in my time at Latymer Upper School.
Did you always want to become an opera singer?
I considered ballet professionally first, because one has to be ready for a career much earlier than an opera singer needs to. At the Royal Ballet School we were monitored closely and at around 11 years old I was told that my turn-out would likely never be good enough to be a principal dancer. Dreams crushed aged 11! But maybe a blessing!
Dance was definitely character-building and I loved the feeling of expressing myself through my body. I realised though that nothing had come as easily to me as singing and throughout my time at Latymer my teachers urged me to consider it professionally.
What did your family think of the idea?
I think they loved the idea! My parents are very supportive and always come to my concerts when they can.
Where did you study?
I studied History of Art at Clare College, Cambridge, but worked on my singing too. After graduating I was advised to still give my voice more time and I didn’t want to abandon the History of Art so I did a year-long masters at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and at that time was fortunate to meet my singing teacher Ashley Stafford who transformed my voice technically and gave me the guidance, support and encouragement I had been looking for. I will be starting my masters in Vocal Performance on a scholarship at Trinity Laban this September with another wonderful teacher, Patricia Rozario. I can’t wait for the next chapter!
Have you always sung soprano?
Yes and I think I very much have the tone of a Soprano, but I have an odd range as I can sing in the tenor range too. But I am working on coloratura/high soprano repertoire at the moment.
How has getting involved with KOFMA helped you?
I met Laura Lamph and Miles Lallemant at KOFMA a few years ago. I am really grateful for just how many concert opportunities they have given me. It is such a warm and giving community of truly talented musicians and wonderful supporters. I can’t wait for the next season to start!
What work have you been most proud of to date?
I sang the role of Dido at 16 years old in my school’s production of Dido and Aeneas which I was hugely grateful for at the time, but more recently I sang Bach’s cantata Jauchzett Gott for KOFMA which is a pretty relentless sing! It’s mostly long coloratura phrases with little time to breathe!
What would your perfect role be?
I love the bel canto coloratura roles and I’d say Lucia di Lammermoor is my dream role. I find the opening of Il dolce suono, her famous ‘mad scene’, hauntingly beautiful.
To be an opera singer, what do you need apart from a great voice?
Resilience, humility and an ability to see the positive in every situation. Rejection is just part of the job! Patience is important too.
Is it harder for women?
I think it’s hard whatever your gender. But Sopranos are the most common breed so there is definitely more competition.
Do you get nervous before walking on stage?
Yes always! But it’s thrilling! I love the feeling of facing my fears in the moment and channelling the energy into my character.
What’s your favourite language to sing in?
I love getting inside the text and getting to know any language better. Pronouncing a foreign language accurately is a musical process in itself! But since I have to choose I’d say Italian feels great to sing in as it naturally puts the voice in a resonant place.
What are your other interests apart from singing?
My boxer Juno, dance, yoga, meditation, swimming, climbing, photography, travelling and being in nature when I can…
Tell us about your next project.
I’ll be singing in the première of Mathilde at the Lumen, King’s Cross, on 26th September, accompanied by the Pro Musica Quartet. I am also busy preparing for the next Philomel concert in November. We are a group of 6 soprani singing early music and newly composed works.
How do you define success?
Having a busy solo career and singing in opera houses.
Modern or classical opera for you?
I really love the classics, but I’ve had a lot of fun working on more recent and new commissions. I love the fact that opera is a living genre!