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