to’—and Mr Gobineau in Northern Ireland Opera’s staging of Menotti’s The Medium (his first professional encounter with Oliver Mears, now the director of opera at Covent Garden).
Then, in April 2011, he returned to the Glyndebourne Chorus as a tenor. ‘I auditioned at the end of the 2010 season to see what they thought for the following year. And Vladimir Jurowski [then Glyndebourne’s music director] said, “I like your singing very much. You should be a tenor!” It wasn’t the first time someone had said that. I had been experimenting for the past year. I was 30 and the colour of my voice had started to change quite noticeably, particularly in the high register. I’d always had good top notes as a baritone but the colour of the G and the A began to change, from sounding like the top of a baritone’s voice to more like the money notes of a tenor’s voice. And what meagre low register I’d had as a baritone began to disappear.’
As Don José at Nevill Holt in 2015, with Clare Presland as Carmen
Accepted back into the Glyndebourne Chorus as a tenor for the 2011 season, he took three months off between the 2010 tour and the 2011 festival. ‘After my conversation with Jurowski, I went to Steven Naylor at Glyndebourne and told him I was considering changing to tenor. With Steven, I sang through Tamino’s Bildnis aria, Cavaradossi’s “Recondita armonia” and, I think, Don José’s Flower Song. And he said to me, “If you want to do this, we will have you back in the Chorus, you needn’t worry about losing your job.” And that made the decision for me. The only reason I was prevaricating was that I actually had quite a nice life, with work at Glyndebourne, some oratorios and recitals. I was making a living, and I was terrified of chucking all that away and starting from scratch. Glyndebourne basically took that risk out of my decision. In the three months I took off, I retrained with my teacher, Ryland Davies, tweaking bits of my passaggio. My voice had already changed a lot, but we had to refine a few technical things.’
After his first tenor season in the Glyndebourne Chorus, the company sent him to the National Opera Studio in London. ‘The fees of singers selected for the Opera Studio are paid for by all six of the UK’s main opera companies, which is why you have to audition to representatives from each of them. They get the final say, because they pay for it. I spent the year learning lots of new repertoire.’ Which roles did he see himself singing at that juncture of his career? ‘I studied Rodolfo, Werther and Alfredo. These were the roles I thought I was going to sing.’ He has gone on to sing the first role and has
Opera, May 2021