Album released!!!

Album released!!!

At long last, Simon Lepper and I are thrilled to release our album Nights Not Spent Alone- Complete songs for mezzo by Jonathan Dove.

We are so proud of it, and hope you'll love the songs as much as we do.

Please do take a look at this short film about the new album- click here to watch it

 

Long time no update!

Long time no update!

So, a mere 18 months after my last post on here, I am finally getting around to updating my website! What can I say, I am a terrible technophobe, and it has been a VERY busy 18 months. Particularly since the arrival of a certain tiny someone who joined our family in June 2016.

Lulu sharing Daddy's dressing room at Glyndebourne

 

Baby Eloise (Lulu) has slotted straight into our crazy life, and by the time she was four months old she had already been to Vienna and Beijing with me, and sat silently through her Daddy's dress rehearsals at Glyndebourne.

Just two weeks after Eloise was born, we all moved down to beautiful Lewes, where my husband, Anthony, was rehearsing at Glyndebourne for A Midsummer Night's Dream. A few weeks after that, off we went to Vienna, where I had a performance of Hadyn's opera La Canterina with Ian Page and Classical Opera Company. It was daunting, going straight back to work so soon, especially as I was still breast feeding. But Ian and the company couldn't have been more supportive, giving me plenty of feeding breaks, and scheduling as helpfully as possible. Anthony came with us and held Eloise in the wings at all times so that I could feed at every possible opportunity, and she seemed to love hearing us rehearsing with the orchestra.

Next stop was Beijing, where I was doing the Aix Festival (Robert Carsen) production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I was dreading taking a 10 week old baby on the 11 hour flight, but luckily I had my brilliant 'manny' (aka Dad) with me. We had a fascinating time there. Beijing is unlike anywhere either of us had ever been before. The city itself was not particularly baby-friendly, with its horrendous smog and step subways everywhere. I don't know how Dad's back survived as he lugged the push chair up and down hundreds of flights of steps. He even hauled it up a small mountain where he was determined to see a temple built at the very top. But the people couldn't have been more baby-friendly. Everywhere we went people wanted to take photos of her and hold her. They found her hilarious. We got so mobbed in some of the tourist areas, it was a little disconcerting sometimes. Eloise got far more attention than dad, which was unusual and quite funny. Many people thought that Dad and I were a couple, and told him off for having such a young wife, which was hilarious. He had to try to explain, mainly through charades as they spoke no English and we spoke no Mandarin, that I was his baby, and Lulu was mine.  

The performances went really well and seemed to be positively received by an audience generally unfamiliar with Britten. It was a great and supportive cast, and though I was ready to get home to the rest of my family by the end, I was so glad that I did it, and grateful to my dad for coming, and my mum who stayed behind with Anthony, to look after my eldest daughter, Ivy. It was difficult trying to keep up the breast feeding with the busy rehearsal schedule, and trying to make my brain and body work on so little sleep. But I feel an enormous sense of achievement for having pushed myself to do it, and managing ok. And dad and I will never forget the experience.

Since then, life has calmed a little, in that we have all been in the UK at least. I have been entirely focussed on various concerts and recitals this year so far, including a lovely programme with Julius Drake at the Leicester International Music Festival, Vivaldi and Prokofiev at the Barbican Hall, and the Brahms Alto Rhapsody at the opening gala of the brand new Stoller Hall in Manchester. I also, both terrifyingly and thrillingly, stepped in at short notice, to a lunchtime recital at Wigmore Hall, which Sarah Connolly had had to pull out of. Luckily it was English Song that they wanted, and Joseph Middleton and I just so happened to be in the middle of resurrecting our beloved This Other Eden programme for a recital the following week at St George's Hall, Liverpool, so we didn't feel too underprepared. We really enjoyed ourselves once we settled down. It was so lovely to be performing that repertoire together again, and especially in such a special and magical venue as the Wigmore hall. I'm looking forward to working with Joe again on various projects next year.

Right now I am in rehearsals for a production of Albert Herring at the brand new Grange Festival, which is great fun. I've played Nancy a few times before, and it's such a lovely role. I always really enjoy doing Albert Herring. Our esteemed conductor, Steuart Bedford, who assisted Britten himself, said to us on day one, that it is always a very happy piece to be a part of, and that he's never had a bad experience with it. We're certainly having a lot of fun and lots of giggles with our fabulous cast, and legendary director John Copley, who we are trying to convince he should write a book of all his hilarious and outrageous anecdotes of the mega stars he has worked with over the years at all the world's major opera houses. We open in late June, and look forward to being a part of this very new festival, which I am sure will be a great success. I have never worked at Grange Park before, but I am told it is absolutely lovely, so I am looking forward to moving over there for our stage rehearsals in a few weeks time.

I shall write a separate post with upcoming performances and news, and promise to try to stay on top of my website from now on. xxx

 

 

Kitty perfroms world premiere of new Jonathan Dove song cycle

Jonathan Dove- Nights Not Spent Alone

July 2015

Jonathan Dove

Jonathan Dove

Earlier this year, I had the great honour of receiving three brand new songs, written especially for me, by one of my favourite composers, Jonathan Dove. When I first started on the BBC New Generation Artists scheme, I had written a fan letter to Jonathan, gushing about how much I adored his songs, and telling him that I hoped to record some of them during my time on the NGA scheme. He very kindly took the time to write back, and we struck up a friendship. So when the BBC offered to commission a new work for me, I jumped at the chance of working with Jonathan. I went to his house in East London, and we had a sing through of all sorts of repertoire so that he could get to know my voice and my range, and we discussed possible texts. Jonathan wanted to write me a cycle which would be useful tome for future recitals, so we talked about recital programmes which I had in the pipeline, including one which I have performed with my mother at the Oxford Lieder Festival- A Woman's Journey. This is a programme of songs which describe the life events of different women, from Schumann's Frau, Debussy's Bilitis, Wolf's Mignon, and many others, punctuated with complementing poetry written by women, read by my mother, the actress Madelaine Newton. I sent Jonathan the list of repertoire for this programme, and he was particularly taken by the idea of setting some of the poems of Edna St Vincent Millay, already a favourite poet of his.

And so Nights Not Spent Alone was born. Fantastic settings of Recuerdo, What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, and I Too Beneath Your Moon, full of smoky nostalgia, melancholic numbness, wit, anger and passion. I was thrilled.

Simon Lepper and I so enjoyed the premiere performance, which we gave at the Cheltenham Festival, in the beautiful Pittville Pump Room. We had some lovely feedback from the audience on the day, and the performance was later broadcast on BBC Radio 3, which you can listen to now.

2015 was a real Jonathan Dove year for me, as just a few weeks before the Nights Not Spent Alone premiere, I had had the huge pleasure of playing the Stewardess in Opera Holland Park's production of Jonathan's hugely successful and wonderful opera, Flight, which had been an unforgettable experience, and a great hit for Holland Park. I am thrilled to say that next year I have a very exciting project lined up with Jonathan, but I am not sure how much I am allowed to reveal at this stage, so I had better stay quiet for the time being...

     Kitty Whately- Stewardess, George Von Bergen, Steward

     Kitty Whately- Stewardess, George Von Bergen, Steward

 

Britten's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'- Bergen National Opera, Norway

7th November 2015

Hermia (Kitty Whately) and Lysander (Ben Johnson)

Hermia (Kitty Whately) and Lysander (Ben Johnson)

I am currently enjoying a very energetic and fun time in Bergen, Norway, for the magical Robert Carsen production of Britten's sublime imagining of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

It is a superb production, which has been running (and jumping) for 24 years around the world, after it's first performance in the Aix en Provence Festival.  If you ever get the chance to see this producton, which I know will last forever, please grab it. It is a masterpiece. You can watch the whole thing here, filmed last year at the Aix en Provence festival, with a different cast. Read more about the production here, from the artistic director of Bergen National Opera, Mary Miller.

                Oberon- Tim Mead, Bottom- Gidon Saks, Tytania- Laura Claycomb, Helena- Hanna Husahr, Demetrius- Marcus Farnsworth, Hermia- Kitty Whately, Lysander- Ben Johnson  

                Oberon- Tim Mead, Bottom- Gidon Saks, Tytania- Laura Claycomb, Helena- Hanna Husahr, Demetrius- Marcus Farnsworth, Hermia- Kitty Whately, Lysander- Ben Johnson

 

 

We have superb cast, many of whom are British singers. It has been a great pleasure to work with old friends, including my old Chetham's School of Music buddy, Marcus Farnsworth, with whom I have performed in three Britten operas over the past few years.  My Lysander, Ben Johnson, is a fellow BBC New Generation Artist, and we have known each other for a long time, although we have not worked together very often. Our Helena, Swedish soprano Hanna Husahr, and I studied together at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, so it has been lovely to catch up with her, and she and I have some fantastically fun scenes together, playing with Barbie dolls and pillow fighting.

                             Helena- Hanna Husahr, Demetrius- Marcus Farnsworth, Hermia- Kitty Whately, Lysander- Ben Johnson

                             Helena- Hanna Husahr, Demetrius- Marcus Farnsworth, Hermia- Kitty Whately, Lysander- Ben Johnson

We have just a few more performances left, before returning to the UK after five happy but long weeks away from our loved ones. It has been great fun, but I am ready for home now. One thing that has made my time away from home easier, was a lovely visit from my parents, who brought my daughter, Ivy (9) here to see me. We had a lovely time exploring the mountains and fjiords, and my family enjoyed watching some of the rehearsals and sneaking backstage to see some of the superb costumes.

 

                             Whately family, backstage at the Grieghallen, Bergen- Madelaine Newton, Kitty Whately, Ivy, and Kevin Whately

                             Whately family, backstage at the Grieghallen, Bergen- Madelaine Newton, Kitty Whately, Ivy, and Kevin Whately

 

There are talks of further revivals in 2016, so watch this space.

 

 

 

BBC Sondheim Chamber Prom - Hear some of Kitty's highlights

July 17th 2015

One of the highlights of my career so far, was the BBC Chamber Prom in honour of Stephen Sondheim's 85th birthday. Sondheim is my all time favourite composer, but I rarely get the chance to perform his songs publically, let alone the chance to sing all my favourites in one afternoon, with some of the best musical theatre artists in the business! I got to share a stage with the legendary actress, Sian Phillips, and to sing some of my absolute favourite duets, with the fantastic star of the West End stage, Jamie Parker. We were accompanied by our fabulous MC/MD, Richard Sisson, who arranged a great deal of the music, and by a hugely talented young saxophonist, Anthony Brown.

We played to a packed audience at the Cadogan Hall, as well as being broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, which is always terrifying. Despite some major technical issues with the microphones at the start, we had a ball. It was over all too quickly, and I desperately want to do it all again. But happily I have the recording to remember the day by.