Posted 27 Mar
Emma Kerr is a rising star of opera, having been chosen as one of Scottish Opera's Emerging Artists. Iain Fraser of OperaScotland spoke to her recently about her career and her time on tour with Opera Highlights.
Emma, thank you very much for making time to talk to OperaScotland. What was your first experience of opera?
The first opera I ever saw was when I went with my Dad to Scottish Opera's Don Giovanni in Edinburgh. I think I was sixteen or seventeen at the time.
Your family was interested in opera?
No, not at all. I had quite an academic background and although I always loved to sing and I loved film and literature and languages I fell into a singing career unexpectedly.
And when you left school?
As I said, I never meant to sing in opera but now I'm doing it, I think 'what else would I be doing?'
I initially went to study English and French at Edinburgh University. I always had this niggle, this idea that singing was what I wanted to do. I was coming through to Glasgow for lessons with Pat McMahon. Somebody said to me 'do what you really want to do' so there was that niggle in the back of the head, what did I really want to do?
And so I deferred my place at Edinburgh University and auditioned for the Guildhall School in London and I got in and so I went there. And that's about ten years ago, I've been singing ever since!
And what did you do after the Guildhall School?
I trained right through at the Guildhall, undergraduate and postgraduate in vocal studies and was working in the summer at festivals alongside that to support myself. Then I did the opera course there, then following that I went to Glyndebourne then Scottish Opera for the last two seasons.
Tell me about the Emerging Artists Programme.
I'm not sure how it works for non-singers, but I was auditioning for Scottish Opera as a singer and I think as far as I understand how it works is if they have a season which they think is suitable for you as an artist, the offer of an Emerging Artist contract comes. The aim is to help you develop as an artist and of course you are offering something to the company.
It lasts for a whole season?
Yes, I was actually extremely fortunate that I've had two seasons here, that's quite unusual I think.
What other roles are you doing with Scottish Opera?
I've done a huge variety – I was a nymph in Rusalka and covered Ariodante which was Handel and taught me so much about singing and performance, I covered Cherubino in Marriage of Figaro and then sang Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte and The Trial by Philip Glass so a huge variety of work – The Mikado too of course.
What are your plans when the tour finishes?
My time comes to an end at the end of March, then I am going to Edinburgh for a few concerts and then down back to London.
Thanks very much, Emma. All the best with your career!
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