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Thoughts and shared experiences from two singers with impressive track records. The Scottish soprano Linda Esther Gray sang Mimì at Glyndebourne, but was most celebrated as an extraordinary Isolde at ENO in 1981, with Reginald Goodall conducting, followed by a recording of Wagner’s opera with Welsh National Opera on Decca. Her co-author Ian Partridge, a decade older, is a much- recorded English lyric tenor who sang Iopas in the 1969 Covent Garden production of Les Troyens conducted by Colin Davis in addition to roles in operas by Vaughan Williams and Britten.

Partridge advises masterclass instructors: ‘If you are working with an audience, then be careful how you address what could be a tricky situation. Never demean the student. I have seen occasions where the singer has become quite upset. This is unnecessary.’ In turn, Gray relates how Goodall started coaching sessions ‘by asking the singers to speak the words, either German or English, as if they were an actor.’ Gray’s own career, which was heading for stellar heights in the early 1980s, came to an abrupt end due to severe illness which took a huge physical and mental toll. She warns students to ‘think long and hard before taking part in a public class, because I can remember others being destroyed during some of the ones I took part in. The singers I am thinking of were simply not vocally or mentally ready to be taught by such illustrious people as Joan Hammond or Peter Pears.’

Benjamin Ivry Read the full review on Agora Classica

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