Respighi with Lyon Opera Studio

It’s been an incredibly hectic last few weeks since returning from Lyon Opera Studio in late February. The minute I walked thorough the RCS doors back to normality, I had a do list as long as my arm and a role to learn and memorise in one week!

Lyon was an incredible experience to work with one of the best opera houses in the world to create a wonderful production with esteemed director, conductor and creative team but with the added joy of meeting new friends from every corner of Europe.

Colour photograph showing characters in costume, including Beth Margaret Taylor as Minnie Mouse, from an Opéra de Lyon production of Resphigi's La Belle au Bois Dormant
Guess who? Minnie Mouse in Respighi’s La Belle au Bois Dormant
Colour photograph showing the cast of La Belle au Bois Dormant, Opéra de Lyon 2018
Slightly less Disney! The cast of La Belle au Bois Dormant, Opéra de Lyon, 2018

The music of Ottorino Respighi was relatively unknown to me and therefore, a fresh start and exciting to explore and mould. On one particular evening, I was introduced to my surprise to the great nephew of the composer; pianist Norberto Cordisco Respighi. He gave the production great praise and invited us to a presentation of his new book, documenting Ottorino Respghi’s life and works- the first publication of his life to be written in French!

Book cover for the new presentation of the life of Ottorino Respighi, written by his nephew and accomplished pianist, Norberto Respighi.
The new presentation of the life of Ottorino Respighi, written by his nephew and accomplished pianist, Norberto Respighi

On attending, I learned even more about Respighi and the state of society at the time of some of the works which brought him great fame, most notable the Roman Trilogy containing the very famous symphonic tone poem “the Pines of Rome”. When I asked him afterwards if he had any advice for young singers performing his work for the first time, he could only make a general comment on doing exactly what Ottorino had written, for there is no ambiguity in his music and that specifically for La Belle au Bois Dormant, to remember the first performers of the work- puppeteers!

By the end of the eight performances in nine days (which for any singer is an exhausting run!), my energy had fallen slightly, but was kept up by the prospect of a song recital I had a few days later in Burgundy with the lovely historical keyboardist, Marcia Hadjimarkos, whom I’d met at a Dame Emma Kirkby masterclass in June 2017. Saying farewell to my wonderful colleagues, with whom I’d built a great friendship with over the past several months was very difficult and I’m very fortunate to be able to say I look forward to working with them all again in the future.