|Anna Devin in the title role of Handel's Semele with Lawrence Cummings and the London Handel Festival|
with Rupert Charlesworth, Louise Innes, Ewa Gubanska & Maria Valdmaa
|Mozart The Marriage of Figaro - Anna Devin, Naomi O'Connell|
WNO - photo Richard Hubert Smith
But WNO is rehearsing a trio of Figaro operas (Rossini's Il barbiere di Sivigila, Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and Elena Langer's Figaro gets a divorce) and some of the cast members are in the Mozart and the Langer so that rehearsal schedules are complex. But Anna has been putting these complications into the character of Susanna, who is equally busy in the opera. Anna enjoys the role from an acting perspective, Anna sees the challenges as being the ensembles, and acting, the need to be inventive and of course the stamina. You have to work hard and only get an aria in Act Four when Susanna sings 'Deh vieni' which Anna calls 'an incredible big aria'.
|Mozart The Marriage of Figaro - Anna Devin, David Stout|
WNO - photo Richard Hubert Smith
I wondered whether, when rehearsing the opera, Anna ever thought of herself as a possible Countess. But for Anna this depends on how her voice develops, as the part is rather low. So she would be an older Countess, which works just as well. During rehearsals, Anna had a throat infection and was not always singing, so she as able to listen to Elizabeth Watts who is singing the Countess in the production. And Anna noticed that the role goes low and needs heft, so it is one that will have to wait until later. For the moment Anna feels she has lots of Susannas in her.
Susanna is very much more than a maid, but Anna would like to move into the more lyrical Mozart roles such as Fiordiligi (in Cosi fan tutte), Donna Elvira (in Don Giovanni) and she would love to do Aspasia in Mitridate Re di Ponto. Another role is Ilia in Idomeneo which she has sung in concert, but the role which seems to get her most excited is Pamina in The Magic Flute which she feels fits her like a glove, but for some reason it has not come her way yet and she has only sung Papagena (at Covent Garden).
|Handel Saul - Christopher Ainslie, Anna Devin - Glyndebourne on Tour|
Looking back, she now feels that this was the right path. She had her wild years when she was at university and now is careful, you cannot to the wild, university things as a singer. When she made the choice, she knew she really wanted it. This is important because you have to sacrifice a lot as a singer.
Anna is dyslexic and I was curious whether this affected the way she learns music. But it affects only language; music has always been part of her life, she learned the piano from the age of six, played the clarinet and of course sang. But language is difficult, it was only when she got to Covent Garden on the Jette Parker programme and was having one to one coaching that she began to understand how her brain works. Now, her learning process is very aural and visual, and she learns a lot from the music and the text; she has to understand what is going on. Only then does she study the text on its own, and thinking about movements associated with the phrases helps as do colours. She uses a lot of visualisation and remembers pictures all the time. She now sees it more of a blessing than a hindrance, and feels that is important that people are empowered. You need to find you own path, even if it is a different path. Without her dyslexia should would probably have finished her degree and regretted not being a singer.
review of the recording) which was full of incredible music. Clotilde, who is Faramondo's sister, has four arias all Allegro with lots of notes, and all four are different. Her top five role would include Handel's Cleopatra (in Giulio Cesare in Egitto) and the title role in Semele, a role she will be singing in Karlsruhe in February 2017 (Semele is a role which she sang to some acclaim at the 2015 London Handel Festival, see my review).
|Verdi Falstaff - Anna Devin - photo Royal Opera House|
When I ask Anna what her desert island roles would be, from any voice time, she names two. Charlotte in Werther is a role she realises she will probably never sing, though she has sung Sophie at Covent Garden, and she loves the complexity of the music in the opera. Anna's other desert island role is one which is in her fach, Mimi in La Boheme which she describes as her all time favourite opera. Any time she hears the Act Three duet between Mimi and Marcello i makes her cry and she feels a deep emotional connection with the opera.
Anna is singing Susanna again at Scottish Opera in the Autumn, in Rossini's L'enfant et les sortileges in Milan conducted by Mark Minkowski, and in Pergolesi's Stabat Mater with Les Musiciens du Louvre, and will also be singing at the Teatro Real in Madrid.
Elsewhere on this blog:
- Somewhere over the rainbow: Song in the City celebrates LGBT History Month - concert review
- Heroique flashes: Bryan Hymel & Irene Roberts at Rosenblatt Recitals - concert review
- Intense indeed: Britten's The Rape of Lucretia at the Guildhall School - opera review
- Richness of sound, fullness of tone: Sonoro makes its debut with conductor Neil Ferris - concert review
- Vibrant, young man's music: Mendelsohn symphonies from Pablo Heras Casaldo - CD review
- A powerful torso: Donizetti's Le duc d'Albe on OperaRara - CD review
- Small scale intensity: Lully Armide from Music at Woodhouse - opera review
- Art for Art's sake: CLS Viennese salon - concert review
- The symphonic organ: Tim Byram-Wigfield at Rochdale Town Hall - CD review
- Beyond Mozart: The second part of my encounter with Ian Page of Classical Opera - interview
- Classical to neo-classical: Mahan Esfahani & Avi Avital - concert review