Let us delve into the background and passion of some of our fabulous cast working on Mozart’s Magic Flute, an upcoming Mid Wales Opera production touring Aberystwyth, Pontardawe, Bangor and Newport from March 2017
Today we talk to Katherine Williamson who is playing one of the spirits in Semele.
What is your background?
I was born in Harold Wood, Essex and brought up in Hornchurch, Essex. I am the youngest of four in my family. I went to The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School.
I always loved singing and playing the piano and my parents always encouraged me in music.
My sister was always singing around the house as she was also very musical, learning singing, the saxophone and the piano. I started my musical career as a clarinettist but once I reached GCSE I realised that my true passion was singing. It was at school where I was given the opportunities to do my first solos and I became a frequent soloist at all the school concerts and on tour. I twice was awarded first place in the annual school music festival winning the Nicholas Mowatt Prize for Singing.
Following my A-Levels I spent a year training at The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts specialising in Musical Theatre repertoire. This was an intensive year of dance training, acting classes and singing classes. I then went on to study at Leeds College of Music where I was encouraged to study operatic repertoire. My teacher and head of vocal studies Jane Anthony was an inspiration and drove the course forward to make sure we had lots of operatic opportunities. She later formed the opera company Young Opera Venture, which was formed to offer more professional work to young opera singers. She was encouraging and gave me my first opportunities performing in operatic roles including Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro. Whilst at Leeds I was awarded the The Douglas Robinson Memorial Prize for Opera and I was also awarded the The Donald Webster Memorial Prize Bursary (Leeds Rotary).
It was during my time in Leeds when I discovered a real love of Opera and I then decided to specialise in this area.
In my last year in Leeds I was offered the opportunity to sing at the world premiere of Karl Jenkins’ ‘Tlep’ as part of a vocal group (in collaboration with Opera North singers). We travelled to Kazakhstan in order to perform with the Kazakhstan Philharmonic Orchestra! Following my course at Leeds I then continued my study at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama obtaining a PGdip. After completing my studies at the RSAMD I then travelled back to the south and completed an MMUS at Trinity Laban Conservatoire where I was awarded The Drapers’ de Turckheim Vocal Scholarship (The Drapers’ Company). Since Leaving Trinity, I have continued my singing studies with RAM Professor Philip Doghan.
What should we know about you?
I am an extremely high soprano reaching heights of a top G (above the stave)
Opera singing has taken me around the world to extraordinary places such as Kazakhstan (and Huddersfield…)
Do you have any specific thoughts about the role you are playing?
I love playing this role. Many people think it is a very small role playing one of the spirits but we are responsible for keeping the main characters on plot, helping them when they reach a difficult moment and averting disaster!
We are the positive force within the opera and create light relief from many heavier moments of drama. I think it is difficult to have an individual character as we are singing together in a trio most of the time but having performed the role before I know it is incredibly enjoyable to sing as the music is beautiful.
What do you think is important about Mid Wales Opera?
Mid Wales Opera is taking opera to new audiences and creating much needed opportunities and providing support for young opera singers at the start of their careers. There are not many paid opportunities for young singers due to funding cuts and it is fantastic that Mid Wales Opera are actively seeking out new talent and giving them a professional opera platform. I have heard fantastic things about the company having had friends work through the company before and they have gone on to very exciting projects following on from their time with Mid Wales Opera so I know it is a wonderful scheme to be involved in.
I am looking forward to seeing more of Wales and to discover beautiful places that I may not have had the opportunity to visit before this tour.