In Conversation With...Jamie Barton

Tuesday, 26 January, 2021
Jamie Barton Credit Bree Anne Clowdus4

Last December the ABL Aviation Opera Studio artists spent an afternoon in conversation with Tara Erraught and the world-renowned mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton.

It was a casual, chatty and informative Q&A where Jamie shared an insight into many aspects of her career, covering some really important topics from travel to competitions. ABL Aviation Opera Studio artist and mezzo-soprano Aebh Kelly outlines some of what they spoke about below.

"Jamie began by telling us that she didn’t start learning any arias until she was 24 and then moved onto larger arias at the age of 26. She assured us that yes, the aria journey is weird and hard but encouraged us to “try everything.” She also said that variety helps keep the voice healthy and flexible. She then spoke to us about covering roles and what is expected of a cover in the professional world. As a cover “you are insurance.” It’s important to be able to read your colleagues and always read the rehearsal room. “Be a support” and remember that your job is hugely important. Jamie openly admitted that travel is the hardest part of the job for her. It can be exhausting, and she said she tries to travel with her cat whenever possible to make her feel more at home no matter where she is. She said how important it is to stay hydrated and make sure you get enough sleep. She then went on to speak about the world of competitions. She said how extremely important they were in her journey as a singer and went on to say she doesn’t believe she would have the career she does today without winning the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. I remember watching Jamie in the final of the Cardiff Singer of the World back in 2013 so to hear her speak about her experience there was even more insightful!

Speaking to Jamie and Tara was so inspiring as we got a great insight into how ‘normal’ these prominent singers are. They have good days and bad days just like everyone else and still experience nerves on the first day of a new production which is so humbling to hear as a young singer myself. It was so kind of Jamie to be so open and honest with us about her career from the highs to the lows. We also spoke about the pandemic and the detrimental effect it’s had on the industry in general. However, despite this she was hugely encouraging to us all to continue working hard and wished us every success in the opera world. These seminars have been vital for keeping us inspired and motivated during these challenging times and it’s never failed to shock me so far how giving these artists are with their time and advice. Thanks to Tara and all the INO team for running such successful seminars for the ABL Aviation Studio’s benefit."

Top tips and takeaways

  1. Breathing tips for performance anxiety: in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4 and hold again for 4. This technique is known as 4-4-4-4.
  2. Luck is a massive part of this career.
  3. When seeking a managerial relationship be sure to pick “someone who believes in you.”
  4. Always learn a role from back to front and repetition is everything.
  5. Recitals are a great way to find stories that you like to tell.