A COUNTERTENOR VIRTUOSO
Glyndebourne's latest new star
talks to RODERIC DUNNETT
<< Continued from Wednesday
Robin Blaze grew up in the village of Shadwell, on the outskirts of Leeds.
'My family background's not a musical one, at least not in the Classical
sense. My dad's a golf professional, and my mum has always quite liked Classical
music across the range. But they had no idea initially I might have a desire
to go into music.'
'Like quite a lot of countertenors in the English tradition I started
young, and came from a choir background; but by chorister standards I began
a bit late, in that I didn't actually go to choir school until I was ten
'Most people in my situation can probably pinpoint one person who switched
them on to music. At Leeds Grammar School junior department I had an inspirational
teacher, Stephen Lomas, who took it upon himself to start a choir with the
kids who were available and to expand their musical horizons as much as
What's more, Lomas gave Blaze his first taste of the male alto voice.
'Opera wasn't something I'd go to normally at that stage. But Stephen took
a group of us, around l980, to see Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream
at the Leeds Grand Theatre (present home to Opera North) -- I have it in
my head that it was the Glyndebourne Touring production; they don't go to
Leeds nowadays, but I think they might have done in those days. James Bowman
was singing the role of Oberon. It was probably the first time I'd ever
heard a countertenor voice -- I'd never heard a recording, or anything like
that before; indeed I hadn't really ever heard an opera singer.'
'I was slightly nervous of these sopranos and tenors, with heavily produced
vibrato in their voices -- that's slightly unnerving if you're not used to
it. But James just stood up and dominated through the colour of his sound,
the way he walked on the stage, the sheer weight of his personality. For
me, aged nine or ten, it was absolutely stunning.
Copyright © 29 December 2001
Roderic Dunnett, Worcestershire, UK
THE KING'S CONSORT
ROBIN BLAZE RECORDINGS ON HYPERION
ROBIN BLAZE SINGS LUTE SONGS
ROBIN BLAZE SINGS CAMPION
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