Phoebe Haines is an award-winning British Mezzo Soprano, with vocal qualities that have been variously hailed as ‘extraordinary’ (The Times), ‘silvery’ (The Evening Standard), ‘impressive’ (The Los Angeles Times), and ‘opulent’ (Sunday Times Culture). Phoebe studied at the University of Cambridge where she obtained a Double First Class Degree, and recently completed her MMus at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She continued her training at the Guildhall as a Fellow (FGSM) in 2014/15, and was also a 2015 Opera Works trainee at the English National Opera. Phoebe is a two-time bursary winner of the International Opera Awards Foundation. She currently studies with world-renowned baritone, Sanford Sylvan, in New York City.
In 2014, Phoebe became a Britten-Pears Young Artist, partaking in the Aldeburgh English Song Project. Having appeared in the critically-acclaimed Grimes on the Beach for the 2013 Aldeburgh Festival (a co-production with Opera North), Phoebe was delighted to return to Aldeburgh as a young artist, exploring and inspiring the work of twelve contemporary composers and librettists. Also in 2014 Phoebe was named a Concordia Foundation Artist, an Iford Arts Young Artist, and a Salzburg Festival Young Artist.
In summer 2014, Phoebe made her debut at the Salzburg Festival as Zweite adelige Waise in Der Rosenkavalier conducted by Franz Welser-Möst at the Großes Festspielhaus, and as Tisbe in La Cenerentola für Kinder, a co-production with Teatro Alla Scala. She participated in many concerts during her time at the Festival, including a concert of arias with the Camerata Salzburg under Theodor Guschlbauer, and sang in master classes with Thomas Hampson and Helmut Deutsch. Her engagements with the Festival also took her to Castell Son Claret (Mallorca), where she sang in their annual gala concert, ‘Opera Under the Stars’.
Also a talented recitalist, Phoebe has given recent performances at a variety of diverse venues worldwide. 2014 saw Phoebe begin her concert schedule in Agra, India, followed by performances at Convento do Beato in Lisbon (Portugal), Villa Kyrélos in St. Jean-Cap- Ferrat (France), and Topping Rose House in New York’s Hamptons (USA). In July and August 2016 Phoebe made her debut in China, iSING! International Young Artists Festival, China, where she appeared in concert at such illustrious venues as Beijing’s Tianqiao Performing Arts Centre, and Suzhou’s Grand Theatre. During her 2016 tour of China, Phoebe performed the roles of Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), Meg Page (Falstaff), and Mercedes (Carmen).
Other recent performance venues include Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (France), Giardini La Mortella (Italy), Villa Del Balbianello (Italy), Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), the British Embassies in Rome and Budapest, and in the UK: Lancaster House, Belvoir Castle, Bloomsbury Ballrooms, the Handel House Museum, Christ Church Spitalfields, The Ambassadors Theatre, The Savoy Chapel, The Athenaeum Club, The East India Club, Asia House, and the Lebanese Embassy in London.
A passionate song-singer, Phoebe was awarded a full scholarship to Songfest Los Angeles, where she studied this year with a world-class faculty, partaking in a number of concerts (including a fully-staged realisation of Hans Eisler's Hollywood Songbook), and master classes with Suzanne Mentzer, Martin Katz, and Jake Heggie, amongst others. Phoebe performed Schumann's Frauenliebe und -leben at St. James' Piccadilly in October 2014 for the Concordia Foundation, along with her own translation of Shostakovich’s Spanish Songs. Her love for Russian song repertoire was ignited by her work with pianist and coach, Lada Valesova, who curated a series of concerts in which Phoebe performed in 2013 (at the Pushkin House and 22 Mansfield Street). Her 2013/14 season saw Phoebe perform the roles of Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus) and Angelina (Trial by Jury) for Opéra de Baugé (France). She also appeared variously as Carmen, La Périchole, and Maffio Orsini (Lucrezia Borgia) for the 2014 Clonter Opera Gala.
As a recipient of the International Opera Awards Foundation, Phoebe opened the 2014 Awards Ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. She sang Rossini’s Cruda Sorte, a work which she prepared with the esteemed support of David Syrus, Head of Music at the Royal Opera House.
Phoebe’s association with the English National Opera began in 2010 when she was invited to perform at a number of patrons’ events.
Her recently-completed training with the ENO saw her perform the role of Annio from Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito (scenes), at the Bloomsbury Theatre under the musical direction of Alexander Ingram.
In summer 2015 Phoebe was a finalist in the annual Graz Meistersinger Competition, under the direction of conductor Karen Kamensek. Phoebe worked with the legendary Montserrat Caballé in masterclass in September 2015 at the Auditorio Zaragoza (Spain). In September and October 2015, Phoebe took on two modern cantatas: Britten's Phaedra in London, and John Eaton's El divino Narciso in New York. She then went on to sing the countertenor role of Hans Katte in Scott Wheeler’s Sorrows of Frederick for Centre for Contemporary Opera, NYC, along with the role of The Mermaid in Rachel Peters’ and Royce Vavrek’s Wild Beast of the Bungalow for CCO at Opera America in May 2016.
Phoebe will make her first appearance with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in August 2016, singing the Abyssinian Mass at Chautauqua Festival. September 2016 sees Phoebe taking on the Mezzo Solo in Verdi’s Requiem in New York City, under the baton of Joseph Jones.
Phoebe has long been an admirer of contemporary composers, her love of modern music having been galvanised by her work with the much-celebrated Louis Andriessen in 2012. She received praise for her interpretation of his musical monodrama, Anaïs Nin, for the Tête-à- Tête Festival in London, and looks forward to performing many future works by Andriessen.
Phoebe is a passionate advocate for charitable causes, and very much enjoys working for Concordia Foundation and Memory Lane on a number of outreach projects at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. While in America, Phoebe volunteers for Harlem Educational Activity Fund, which provides educational opportunities and career advice to under-served young people.
Phoebe is incredibly grateful for the continued support of Help Musicians UK, the British-Sino Fellowship Trust, the John Wates Charitable Trust, the International Opera Awards Foundation, Talent Unlimited, Opera Prelude, Dr. Henry Sauls, Dr. Michael Shipley & Mr. Phillip Rudge, and the Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust.
Q&A with Phoebe Haines
When did you first hear opera?
We had a large selection of Maria Callas recordings when I was growing up, which inspired me a great deal. I thought that if I could achieve even a small percentage of the vocal and communicative power that she possessed, then I would be very happy. I also could not have begun to study music without the unfailing support of my mother, so I definitely have to thank her for these early experiences.
One of the first times I heard opera live was Joyce DiDonato’s much-feted Rosina at ROH in 2006. She is a singer whose attitude I admire greatly. I think she is a living shrine to professionalism, and is an absolute queen on stage. A real inspiration for all young singers.
Why did you want to become an opera singer?
I think there is no other art-form that possesses the sheer communicative power that opera does. It is raw emotion transmitted through music, and it possesses a very special and unique power in that regard.
Strangest costume you've had to wear on stage?
… would probably be this rather fetching 1960’s style nightie and slippers – but the best element of this costume was definitely the hair, which consisted of a huge ball of synthetic hair which sat on top of my head, over which my own hair was combed, and a fringe added. This was for the young artists’ performances of ‘La Cenerentola’ last year at the Salzburg Festival. Needless to say, I didn’t make many quick head movements during this show!