The image I chose for Sopranos! features (your’s truly as) Antonia in Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman under the direction of Dieter Kaegi with Opera Ireland.
I felt it visually embodied a great sense of operatic drama i.e. Antonia is acknowledging an imaginary performance but she has been warned that the exertion of singing will kill her. However, she cannot help herself!
The dress—and it’s all about the dress—was designed by set and costume designer (and friend) Louis Désiré!
On 22nd February 2016, I will present and perform a new show called “Sopranos! – Arias, Songs and Stories of the Great Operatic Sopranos” in Dublin’s National Concert Hall.
The theme, based on a subject that is close to my heart, emerged during a masterclass I recently gave when a student asked “who is Montserrat Caballé?” I was shocked though somewhat consoled by the fact that the same student had not heard of Freddie Mercury either!
All of the great sopranos had a different style of singing and performing and have contributed directly to the learning, singing styles, techniques and performance of modern opera singers.
Through aria, song and anecdote I want to pay homage to the contribution that those great sopranos have made to opera and music. Their legacy lives strong but their memory is in danger of fading.
The ‘Caballé-Mercury issue’ highlighted a niggling fear I have held in recent years that these women are in danger of being relegated to obscurity rather than being praised and highlighted for the contribution they have made.
Montserrat Caballé and the sopranos of the (very) late 19th century onwards are the only ‘demonstrable’ reference point we have for a heritage that is hundreds of years old as they, unlike their predecessors, have been recorded.
Each of these singers had a different style of singing and performing and have contributed directly to the learning, singing styles, techniques and performance of modern opera singers.
At the height of her singing career Montserrat Caballé was described as having a honeyed quality in her timbre, huge range and fabulous agility that she deployed like a magician in the bel canto operas. It is generally agreed that Caballé set a new standard for the “floated” pianissimo—a sustained soft note in the upper register and an essential to every soprano’s vocal armory. Caballé’s pianissimo has been described as ‘angelic’.
Maria Callas, one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century—‘the Bible of opera’—is considered a controversial figure among critics who have described her voice as “instantly recognisable” but “essentially ugly”! A tireless worker, Callas brought a great acting ability to her roles that was comparatively unique and that greatly inspired those that followed.
Apart from having extraordinary careers, many of these women led lives as extraordinary as those of the heroines they portrayed with experiences worthy of any modern-day soap opera!
Leontyne Pryce, one of the first African Americans to become a leading artist at New York’s Metropolitan Opera who, when it was proposed she play Aida, insisted that “when she makes her debut at the Met, she must do it as a lady, not a slave.”
Lily Pons‘ after whom the town of Lilypons, Maryland, USA is named appeared as the face for Lockheed airplanes and Libby’s tomato juice in advertisements and had a beloved pet ocelot she originally believed was a jaguar.
Renata Tebaldi became known as “Miss Sold Out” at the New York Metropolitan Opera due to the popularity of her performances. A rivalry with Callas may have been fictional but it delighted the media and helped in keeping attention on them both.
Swiss-born Lisa Della Casa described as “the most beautiful woman on the operatic stage” and “sexy”.
Irish born Margaret Burke-Sheridan known as ‘Maggie from Mayo’ made her operatic debut in Rome’s Tatro Costanzi before and embarking on a highly successful though short-lived career in many of the great Italian opera houses and London’s Royal Opera House. Puccini was said to have been spellbound by her Madama Butterfly.
Sopranos! – Arias, Songs and Stories of the Great Operatic Sopranos
Monday 22nd February at 8:00 p.m.
National Concert Hall, Dublin
All tickets €20
Booking www.nch.ie | T. 01 417 0077
REGINA NATHAN | Soprano
My World is My Song
Robert Chevara DIRECTOR
Elizabeth Rossiter PIANO
Saturday 17th October 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
Glór Theatre, Ennis, Co. Clare
My World is My Song is an exciting concert performance starring Irish soprano Regina Nathan and featuring a rich and eclectic mix of songs that enhances the deep connections between the music we love, our everyday experiences and our personal stories.
This unique new show will premiere in the Glór Theatre, Ennis on Saturday 17th October at 8:00 p.m.
In a semi-staged format, Regina will perform a thought-provoking, memory-evoking programme of songs from a variety of genres that includes classical arias and more modern hits from legendary storyteller-singer-performers including Janis Ian, Leonard Cohen and Edith Piaf.
These great songs have a timeless quality that resonate. They enable us to experience the sheer pleasure of hearing a story recounted through music, and to identify with that story in ways that allow us to make the songs our own.
“I like putting together different styles of music that tell a story or express a feeling or an experience. It is not only intensely gratifying to perform these diverse and inspirational pieces; it often introduces people to music they might previously be unfamiliar with in a format that is comfortable, intimate and unique”.
Now living in Co. Clare, Regina Nathan has performed many of the great soprano roles delighting audiences in some of the world’s most renowned opera houses. She brings to bear a vast range of singing skills, knowledge and experience, from working with world opera’s great conductors, directors and teachers, that now manifests itself in her own innovative approach to teaching and performing.
My World is My Song offers all music lovers an opportunity to share in and experience the evocative and the provocative. It will comfort with the familiar and excite with the unique. It is, above all, an evening of entertainment designed to celebrate and extol the power of song in recounting stories.
Join me in this celebration!
…or telephone Glór Theatre Box Office at T. 065 684 3103
Tickets €20 / €18 concession
My World is My Song is produced and performed by Regina Nathan [Soprano] and is directed by award-winning theatre and opera director Berlin-based Robert Chevara, Associate Director at the King’s Head Theatre in London, and previously a Director of Productions at English Touring Opera. Regina is accompanied by London-based Elizabeth Rossiter who enjoys a busy performing career primarily as a song accompanist and chamber musician. Elizabeth also teaches at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Sunday October 4th 2015 at 8.00pm
National Concert Hall, Dublin
The Kildare tenor Philip Scott is delighted to bring his performance “The Life and Songs of John McCormack” back to The National Concert Hall in October 2015. After his sell out performance in The John Field Room in January of this year, it was clear that the public’s love for John McCormack’s music was alive and well. For this concert Philip welcomes one of Irelands greatest sopranos Regina Nathan as his very special guest and also Dublin-based composer, conductor and accompanist Andrew Synnott on piano.
Philip brings a programme of John McCormack songs such as I Hear You Calling Me, Macushla, The Kerry Dance and many more back to his spiritual home. The programme will also be sprinkled with Italian Arias and of course not forgetting the majestic Panis Angelicus.
One of the highlights of the night will be Regina Nathan’s rendition of Danny Boy, a moment of great stillness and beauty. Andrew Synnott’s ability as an accompanist is astonishing, as he weaves his way through the pieces with sensitivity and understanding.
The evening unfolds as Philip tells the story of John’s life from humble beginnings in Athlone, to becoming one of the most famous tenors in the world. Along with his unquestionable singing ability John’s chatty and affable nature can’t be underestimated in making him as popular as he became. So to honour and respect The great Count John McCormack, Philip, Regina and Andrew bring you a night of intimate singing, great music and good humour.
Welcome home John.
Philip Scott Tenor
Andrew Synnott Piano
Guest Artist Regina Nathan Soprano
Tickets from €20
Box Office 01 417 0000