Tudor Portraits #2: Bronwyn Douglass, mezzo soprano

With the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs

BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE

 

This month, four young singers will join the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs to present Vaughan Williams’ Five Tudor Portraits. We touch base with each soloist ahead of the gig to learn about their passions.

 

Bronwyn Douglass graduated with a Masters in Operatic Performance from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. She has held a scholarship with the Melba Opera Trust since 2016 and this year has been named as a finalist in the prestigious Opera Foundation for Young Australians Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship and the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship.

Most recently, Bronwyn has performed the roles of Olga in Eugene Onegin for Co-Opera (2017), Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly for Opera Projects Sydney (2016); and has performed as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic and Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

 

Why I am passionate about choral singing

What I love about choral singing is how powerful it is. There is something really special about such a large group of singers working as a team.

How I prepare to perform a solo part

To prepare for a piece like the Five Tudor Portraits, I firstly look at exactly what’s written on the page. I look at the words themselves, and if there is a story behind them and what I think the composer was trying to convey by the setting of the words, dynamics and other markings.

I then listen to as many recordings as I can find, to work out what I like or dislike about different interpretations. I try singing the piece in different ways to find out exactly what I want to say and how I can to perform the work to convey this.

In terms of mental preparation in the lead-up, I do some visualisation exercises to imagine what it will be like performing in the venue on the night, but my best mental work often ends up being the character study I have done whilst learning the music. It is a very freeing experience if you know the intentions of the character you are playing well enough that you can focus wholly on that and not worry about vocal technique.

How I would like to see the Australian arts industry supporting young singers

I am extremely fortunate that I am a Melba Opera Trust Scholar and I have had consistent support from them over the past two years as I refine my performance. I would love to see more support for programs like this to help young singers to bridge the gap between their conservatorium studies and working as a professional performer.

Advice I have for other young and emerging singers

My advice for other emerging singers is to really think about what you are trying to say. Detailed and extensive preparation is very important, but when preparing yourself for performance I think it is very easy to get caught up in the technical side of the work, i.e. how you are sounding, or that one pesky note that you always find difficult. It’s crucial to practice immersing yourself in the character of the piece and completely ignoring the technique. Many times, I have found that my body has sorted itself out and I have fixed technical problems by completely concentrating on what I am trying to say.

 

See this young soloist perform with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs in Tudor PortraitsCity Recital Hall Angel Place on 24 and 27 August.

Tickets from $49-109 with DISCOUNTS off your ticket for CutCommon subscribers!

 

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