Yeoman Interview – Katie Coventry
Multi-award-winning Scottish mezzo-soprano Katie Coventry holds the Company’s RCM Silver Medal 2017. An ENO Harewood Artist and RCM International Opera School graduate with many professional performances already under her belt, Katie recently made her role début as Cherubino at English National Opera and her début at Teatro Real, Madrid as Jennie Hildebrand in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene. She will shortly join Salzburg Festival’s Young Singers Project and Salzburg Landestheater for the 18/19 season.
What was your journey to the opera stage?
I loved performing as a child in choirs and orchestras but it wasn’t until I was 16 and started singing lessons with mezzo-soprano, Allison Cook, that I thought I could do it as a career. I went to Royal Holloway University as a choral scholar to study history and music but hoped that afterwards I might go to a conservatoire and pursue opera. I auditioned for the Royal College of Music and went from there!
You don’t choose the soprano life – it chooses you. Agree or disagree?
I think I agree, being an opera singer is something I have to do. I have been told by many opera professionals that if you can do something else, do it. There are some days which are so hard, especially starting out, but the feeling after having a great show or even just a great lesson makes it so worth it.
You’re engaged to baritone Nick Morton. Have you performed together?
Yes I am! We met at college so performed a lot together then. Our first show was as the cats in L’enfant and then the last was as father and son in Hansel and Gretel. We do often work together at home and test each other on our words, which is a huge benefit of being with another singer!
What was your first professional stage appearance?
My opera début was as Edith in Pirates of Penzance for English National Opera.
Who is your current voice teacher? Your coach?
I have been with Tim Evans-Jones for nearly six years now and have caught up with Allison Cook a few times when she’s working in London. My main coach is Jane Robinson at ENO.
How do you keep your voice healthy?
I feel like I drink water constantly and work hard on my vocal stamina, practicing often but not full out singing for all of it. I’ve also been really into yoga and practicing mindfulness recently as I’ve found body and mind have a big impact on the voice.
You recently sang the role of Jennie Hildebrand in Street Scene. How was it?
Street Scene is such a great show and demands a large cast so it was really fun getting to know everyone and this was my first contract outside of the UK so I learnt a lot from that.
How did you get involved in the Young Singers Project?
I have sung for the project’s musical director, Adrian Kelly, a couple of times in the past. He recently came to ENO and heard me again and was really happy with my vocal progression so thought that I was at a good point to get the most out of the programme.
Which award has had the biggest impact on your career?
The Joaninha Award and Independent Opera Fellowship have given me crucial financial support that has enabled me to go to auditions, have my lessons and coachings and begin learning German for when I move to Salzburg. In addition, both of these organisations and the Worshipful Company of Musicians have given me huge career support and advice and come to all of my performances as well as given me a public platform to show who I am.
Which role(s) have you most enjoyed singing?
I have been looking forward to performing my first Cherubino since I started college and singing it in the Coliseum with such a fantastic cast is going to take some beating for me.
Which roles for mezzo-soprano are on your bucket list?
I would love to sing Rosina and hope I get to sing some Strauss one day as Komponist and Octavian.
Interview by Suzy Willmott @suzywillmott