Becca began her stage career at 18 in the role of Magda Goebles in Michael Black’s play Propaganda at the Edinburgh Fringe. Becca subsequently read English at the University of Oxford, where she played major roles, including the title role in Hedda Gabler, and the leading lady in Macbeth. Here, Becca rediscovered her passion for singing, creating the country's first improvised musical, which toured the UK and USA in 2008.
In 2010 Becca committed herself solely to classical singing and in 2011 was offered a place at Trinity Laban. She was awarded both the Morag Noble Scholarship and the Roy Pleasance Prize for voice and orchestra. Alongside her studies, Becca worked professionally. She sang Amelia for OperaUpClose’s production of Un Ballo in Maschera, and Tosca at the Soho Theatre in 2013, as well as creating the role of Gala Dali in Ergo Phizmiz’s latest commission, Gala! , all to critical acclaim.
Becca began an ongoing relationship with Cantata Drammatica in 2013, creating the roles of Werburh and Matilda in Cantata Eliensis. She was subsequently invited to sing in their latest commission, Beowulf, in 2016.
Since completing her masters with a distinction in September 2014, Becca has sung with Winslow Hall and Grange Park Opera Choruses, performed Donna Elvira in Moonlittle Theatre’s Don Giovanni, and created the role of the Maid in Louis Mander’s latest opera for Tête à Tête. In addition, Becca has given several recitals, and sung the soprano solo in Verdi’s epic requiem.
Most recently she sang Mimi for the King’s Head Theatre’s groundbreaking new production, for which she also wrote the libretto. This spring she will be returning to the King’s Head to sing the title role in Madam Butterfly and in the summer will be singing Ortlinde in Die Walküre for Grange Park Opera. She is currently working on a new libretto for Puccini’s Tosca, to be performed at the King’s Head in the autumn.
Q&A with Becca Marriott
When did you first hear opera?
I was seven years old and my dad took my sister and I to see Carmen at the ENO as a Christmas gift from my uncle. No one in my family liked opera much, but I remember thinking it was really magical!
Has musical success always come easily or have there been times of struggle?
I think it has mostly been times of struggle to be honest. I think a lot of singers would say that. I did my first round of auditions for music colleges in 2010 and didn’t get in anywhere. Several unsuccessful auditions for small companies happened in the same year, but I knew I had something, so I just kept going and kept hoping. I was told by my dad that I would never sing a full operatic role…I proved him wrong a year too late!
In 2011 I was offered a place at Trinity Laban, shortly after my father passed away. It wasn’t my first choice, but ended up being my only choice! Then, in 2012 I crammed in three fully staged operas, all unpaid, before landing the role of Tosca with Opera Up Close – my first professional gig, and a huge leap of luck.
I have always been dreadful at auditions, but companies always ask me back! I struggle constantly but it is always worth it. Especially as a recent graduate trying to take a huge step up into full-time professional singing, it is an uphill battle. It is for most singers who haven’t already won all the prizes, or been to the most prestigious academies. A good friend of mine once said that the key is holding onto the tree long enough and waiting for all the other monkeys to fall off. I don’t know how right that is, but when it seems like a real battle what gets you through is your own perseverance and overwhelming love of what you do.
What do you do when you’re not singing?
Sleep! – I do many things. I love cooking and eating, and then swimming and running to wear it all off! I still do some improvised comedy shows in London with a troupe of players. I like writing and directing too. Most of all I just like curling up on the sofa with my cat and a good film!
Operatic Debut? First singing experience?
First real singing experience was as The Whale in a piece for Childrens’ Choir, sponsored by WWF. This was my first major solo. Opera debut…
Has anything ever made you want to give up?
Lots of things…I think constant failure at auditions does chip away at you, plus you are dirt poor most of the time which is really demoralising. I sometimes say to myself “I have two very good degrees and a diploma – why didn’t I go into banking?”, but I know that singing is where I belong.
How do you handle nerves before a performance?
Deep breathing and listening to Bon Jovi.
Dream role? Favourite composer/opera?
Mimi in Boheme…I’m a huge Puccini and Verdi fan.
Most unusual or exciting theatre or concert hall you have performed in?
I performed at Harrogate Hall with Lesley Garrett, that was great fun. Beautiful venue, and a lovely, lovely lady…
If you weren't an opera singer, what other profession would you have chosen?
Probably a Therapist or a drama and English Teacher.