British mezzo-soprano Anna Harvey studied on the opera course at the Royal Academy of Music under Elizabeth Ritchie and Iain Ledingham, graduating with the Alumni Development Award for a singularly distinguished studentship.
Engagements this season include house debuts at the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar (Zulma L’Italiana in Algeri, Zweite Dame Die Zauberflöte, Groom/Theatregardrobiere/Gymnasiast Lulu, Kay Die Schneekönigin), Landestheater Altenburg in Gera (Mayor’s Wife Jenůfa, Gold) and Theater Nordhausen (Page Salome). Other engagements include an appearance at the Last Night of the BBC Proms in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, a recording for Hyperion directed by Jonathan Cohen, a performance of Handel’s Messiah on Good Friday at the Royal Albert Hall, and covers of Octavian Der Rosenkavalier and Prince Orlofsky Die Fledermaus for Welsh National Opera. From May 2017 she becomes a WNO Associate Artist and recipient of the Chris Ball Bursary.
Q & A with Anna Harvey
When did you first hear opera?
The first opera I went to was Madame Butterfly in Sheffield City Hall with my friend from school and her Mum (this friend still regularly reminds me she was the once who introduced me to opera!).
Has musical success always come easily or have there been times of struggle?
There's a lot of disappointment in singing - you go to lots of auditions and you will only get some of them, or you'll get a couple of things and they clash so you have to decide what to go for. These disappointments and decisions can be difficult - you're often second guessing what something could lead to.
What do you do when you’re not singing?
I love the outdoors; going for runs and bike rides in the countryside, swimming in lakes and the sea (in summer!), going on occasional surfing or hiking trips with my brothers. I grew up in Sheffield so had the Peak District on my doorstep, and spent a lot of time in the Lake District during my childhood, so those are the places I feel most at home. I also love playing the violin and going to the theatre and art exhibitions, and I help to run the Sunday school at my church which is one of the highlights of my week.
Dream role? Favourite composer/opera?
I've played Ariodante which was a dream role, but I'd love to play the other big Handel trouser roles, Xerxes and Giulio Cesare. I also think Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito is one of the most conflicted and interesting characters in opera.
Which aria makes you the happiest to sing?
Dopo notte from Ariodante - it is all about joy and has these amazing coloratura runs which give you a real adrenaline rush when you sing them. It's the aria at the culmination of the opera and you know the audience are absolutely behind you.
Strangest costume you've had to wear on stage?
I had to wear big bushy sideburns, a moustache and a large leather codpiece when I played a (male!) dog last year!
Which singer has most inspired you?
Definitely Janet Baker - her beautiful voice, captivating stage presence and down-to-earth, grounded approach to the profession are inspirational.