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The Opera Singer’s Acting Toolkit

It’s over a year now since my book, The Opera Singer’s Acting Toolkit, was published by Bloomsbury. I feel I probably should’ve written about it here but, for some reason, I’m 12 months late.

The book was written over a ten year period of leading English National Opera’s flagship training programme for young opera singers, ENO Opera Works. In that time over 200 singers, directors, designers and stage managers trained on the Course and I had the pleasure of working alongside a team of great directors and conductors from theatre, dance and opera. The great joy in leading the course, alongside ENO’s Head of Training, Jane Robinson, was in experimenting and tailoring a range of approaches and tools for the creation of operatic character with diverse cohorts of enthusiastic and curious young singers. The book draws on these singers’ experiences of exploring the tools that these leading practitioners introduced and details how these tools might be used when working with a range of repertoire.

Over the last few years, whilst completing the book and directing my own work, I’ve been International Chair at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and had the opportunity to explore this wide range of work with young opera singers and directors studying in Cardiff. During this time I also conducted over twenty interviews with leading conductors, vocal coaches and directors, as well as singers at different stages of their careers, about their approaches to creating character. These interviews feature in the book. I find their varying approaches fascinating - for all their different and unique ways of working, each of their processes tend to draw upon some of the tools explored in book.

It was, frankly, a huge relief to publish the book after such a long time thinking about and planning it and I really should’ve written a post earlier but after a number of years chained to my desk I probably decided enough was enough. Well, that’s my excuse. I also spent most of last year directing theatre and opera in various parts of the UK. Remember that time, when we could travel to different parts of the country to watch live theatre and opera...?

Anyway, it’s Christmas and you might be looking for that perfect last minute gift for the aspiring opera singer in your family. Or maybe that curious theatre director you know who’d like to expand their knowledge of opera. Or just someone who wants to know a little bit more about what goes on behind the scenes when creating an opera. If so, I hope this link might lead you to what you’re looking for:

Merry Christmas and hoping the book will prove useful when we all get back into rehearsal rooms in 2021!


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