It became clear to my parents from an early age, that I was a horrendous show off.
This manifested around the age of three when I would burst in on unsuspecting guests bellowing “Why, why WHYYYYYY Delilah?!!” in a frighteningly accurate impersonation of Tom Jones, and demand applause and cake before I could be removed.
Things became worse in school (St Julian's Comprehensive, Newport) where I joined every available music club; recorders, choir, orchestra and the Gilbert and Sullivan Society. We were incredibly lucky to have the fantastic music teacher, Alan Moore, who challenged us with difficult repertoire and whom I eventually bullied into giving me star roles such as Mad Margaret in Ruddigore and Carmen in an English adaptation of the Bizet opera called Passion Flower. I was hooked.
I went on to study music at the University of Reading in the glory days of Professor Peter Wishart and under his tutelage and that of his wife Maureen Lehane, I discovered a profound love of baroque music and especially Handel. I little knew then, back in the huge haired Eighties that George Frederic would later on in life, be so kind to me (- over a hundred performances of Messiah have helped me pay my mortgage and indulged my inexplicable need for glass vases!)
After three years of post graduate study at the Royal Academy of Music studying with the feisty Patricia Clark, and a further year at the National Opera Studio in London, I was unleashed into the largely disinterested world.
Early jobs included a fabulous summer in the Glyndebourne Chorus for "Cosi" and "Death in Venice" wearing incredible costumes and playing endless cricket on the lawn.
My first professional role was as Schwertleite in Wagner's Die Walküre which was terrifying more for the fact that I had to wear stilts than sing in the legendary Valkyrie scene.
My big break came when I was asked to sing on the CD and DVD Recording of Handel's Messiah with King's College Cambridge under Stephen Cleobury. As a grizzled veteran of this piece I am still incredibly proud of these recordings. This led to yet more prestigious Handel, this time with William Christie, in the long running Robert Carsen production of Orlando. And so it began and very happily for me, continued. I am one of the fortunate and relatively unusual singers that is equally busy in concert work as in opera. I mainly specialise in Baroque and Contemporary repertoire (and yes, I DO like modern music and and much of it very beautiful and incredibly rewarding. Of course you get a few stinkers, but you do in any period; it's all part of the job.)
I'm delighted to have worked regularly with the legend that is Pierre Boulez and to have won a grammy award for the recording of his masterpiece “Le marteau sans maitre”.
I love working with Michael Nyman and the Nyman Band as it is the only place apart from my bathroom, that I feel like a rock star. I have been a massive fan of Michael for well over twenty years and have a huge emotional response to his music, both as a performer and as a listener. I think his latest "War Work" contains some of the most beautiful songs he has ever written and it overwhelms me every time we perform it.
Working with Michael allowed me to dabble in film music and I've sung solo on several of his soundtracks as well as Joby Talbot's “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” and Howard Shore's “The Fellowship of the Ring”.
It is always a tremendous pleasure working with Christian Curnyn and his marvellous ensemble, the early opera company. I have recorded five Handel discs with him and been his stalwart contralto in countless exhillerating concerts. He is an incredible Handelian and musician and I rejoice in him. One of my greatest claims to fame is that our recording of “Semele” features glowingly in the PD James novel “The Private Patient”. I am a huge devourer of crime fiction and was beside myself with pride when I read the book and discovered myself in it!
I have been so fortunate in being able to have a career doing the repertoire I love with extraordinary musicians in exciting locations. Long may this continue. For a more detailed biography of roles and venues etc, I point you towards my page on the Maxine Robertson Management website. Let this website be the place for how it all started and favourite things.