Dame Sarah Connolly concerned for future of British opera singers

Dame Sarah Connolly said she was concerned about the future of British female opera singers when they “can’t spend a lot of time in Europe building their careers”.

The mezzo-soprano has performed in some of the world’s most renowned venues, including the Royal Opera House in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, as well as Glyndebourne, Vienna, Bayreuth and Paris.

The 58-year-old fears that British musicians will not be able to compete with European singers if they fail to establish themselves and learn the operatic repertoire in all languages.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs: “The future of opera in Europe is in very good hands; I’m not so sure about the future of British opera singers. I am very concerned that without a situation where British musicians can spend a lot of time in Europe building their careers, I am very concerned that what we have right now – that’s about 20% of the world’s excellence, some of the Greatest singers in the world are British – where should the next generation come from if they can’t be known?

“Not just through the Cardiff Singer of the World competition and those occasional competitions that put people in the spotlight. What about the hard work of networking, the work I did with William Christie for months and months?

“Establish yourself, the audience hears you, work through the repertoire in all languages. How can we compete with our German, French, Portuguese, Austrian friends if we are not known. “

Her song selection on the show ranged from Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin to Richard Wagner’s Der Ring.

Dame Sarah’s episode of Desert Islands Discs will air today (Sunday) at 11 a.m. and Friday at 9 a.m. on BBC Radio 4.

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