©Mariona Vilaros

5 October 2017

Meet 2016 Scholar, Samantha Clarke

Ahead of the inaugural Scholars’ Recital at the Wigmore Hall in October 2017, we sit down with this year’s scholarship recipients to talk about their journey so far and what they’re looking forward to as they embark on their professional careers. 

Independent Opera: What led you into opera and singing in the first place? And how did you come to study at the Royal Northern College of Music?

Samantha Clarke: I sang when I was growing up and then was classically trained during school, I always had in mind that I wanted to do Musical Theatre and only that - as much as my teachers tried to convince me to open my mind up to classical music. I did a certificate in Musical Theatre when I finished school at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) and then my teacher convinced me to audition for the Classical Voice course. I studied for four years at WAAPA, my final two years were under the tutelage of Patricia Price who really made me believe that I could take myself seriously as an opera singer. I think that was what was holding me back, I didn't think I could sing like the amazing artists I had listened to in recordings and on YouTube etc. In my final year, I entered the Australian Singing Competition and was so shocked when I got through to the finals along with four other incredible singers. I sang with the Australian Opera and Ballet orchestra and it was the final step for me towards Classical Music addiction. Through the competition I was awarded a scholarship to the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) where I started studying with Mary Plazas who has opened up a whole new world for me as a musician and an artist. 

IO: What are your highlights from the past year and what are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

SC: Highlights from the past year are performing the title role in Theodora by Handel at the RNCM. It was such an amazing role to explore and the music is so beautiful. One of the biggest highlights was having my professional debut as Pamina in Die Zauberflote at Longborough Festival Opera with incredibly talented and supportive colleagues. I was very lucky to then go on to perform the role of Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with British Youth Opera which was another incredible experience - Elvira is such a complex character and I had an absolute ball working with other young artists and an incredible production and music team.  Highlights in the coming year would be this amazing recital. This is my Wigmore Hall recital debut so I am really looking forward to it. Commencing my studies at Guildhall School of Music & Drama on the Opera Course is also incredibly exciting. I have got such great colleagues and everyone at Guildhall have been so welcoming and supportive.

IO: What are you most looking forward to about the Scholars’ Recital?

SC: Ahhh all of it! The programme is so great. All the repertoire has really been chosen with care and a lot of thought. Performing with James [Baillieu] is going to be amazing, the rehearsals and coachings we have had already have been so helpful and collaborative. He is such an amazing musician, so it is a pleasure working with him! I am also really looking forward to the Rosenkavalier Trio with Nika and Katie, as well as the Jealousy Duet to finish off the evening with Jade - a piece to let our hair down! Generally, just seeing all of the girls will be lovely, they are all so talented and we had a great day together on the day of the photoshoot so it will be like catching up with old friends but we get to sing together and perform in the Wigmore Hall.

IO: What advice would you give to your younger self or others who are just beginning their training?

SC: No. 1: Work! Never underestimate the work. Opera is such a discipline and it is so important to live and breathe it.
No. 2: Once you have done the work- trust it! Listen to your instincts as they will nearly always be right.
No. 3: Enjoy it- being able to have a laugh at yourself and with your colleagues is so important.
No. 4: ALWAYS bring warmth and openness to any rehearsal, coaching, lesson etc.

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