Meet the winner of Prudi Hoggarth Audience Prize, Yeoman Will Barry
Yeoman Will Thomas is fast making a name for himself as one of opera’s most promising singers. In addition to scooping awards including the Kathleen Ferrier and Glyndebourne John Christie Award, Will recently became a Drake Calleja Scholar and performed the role of Nicholas in Barber’s Vanessa as a Jerwood Young Artist. Other recent roles include Peter Quince in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We caught up with Will following his success as audience prize winner of the Company’s Prince’s Prize 2019.
When did you start singing?
I was a boy chorister but not properly with my bass voice until I was 17.
What makes a great bass voice?
One that speaks to an audience and that is able to be used in all sorts of repertoire, up and down the range. I prefer basso cantante voices like Cesare Siepi because they are so versatile and resonate really well in an opera house. A bass with the low notes is so impressive and rare.
What roles have you enjoyed most?
I have enjoyed Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen when I was an undergraduate!
How do you prepare for the stage?
I usually have a day of rest until the show, potter about the house cleaning and doing chores or shopping, then I usually do some stretching or yoga to get rid of any aches from tennis as I am a very keen player!
You recently won the Prudi Hoggarth Audience Prize (Prince’s Prize) – what did you sing?
I sang La Calunnia, the floral dance, Mazurka by Poulenc and Feldeinsamkeit by Brahms.
What operatic role would you most like to play?
I have always been a huge Wagner fan, so Wotan is an obvious choice but I feel like that will have to wait some time. More immediately I would love to sing Don Giovanni and John Claggart.
If you weren’t a singer, what would you be?
Probably a vocal coach to be honest! I love helping others and exploring the repertoire and I play the piano too. That or something to do with French….
What are you most looking forward to this year?
My debut at the Vienna Staatsoper in October as Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
You can find out more about Will at www.willthomasbass.com
Interview by @suzywillmott