It is such an honour for me to be able to sing the roles portrayed by women in opera – characters who
express their love, and the privacy of their prayers, for us to connect with their stories.
All the arias on LOVE & PRAYER speak of heartbreak, domestic violence, female suppression,
sovereignty, loyalty, true love, motherhood, and supplication to a higher power of some kind. My
own life has sometimes felt like an opera in itself, so I didn’t feel unqualifed to express these stories
on an emotional level – which for me is just as important as being able to sing the music.
When I was starting my career as a soprano, I was not aware of any diverse British role models for me
to identify with. All the legacy of singers I could reference were American. I therefore felt that it was
important for me to share my voice and document my journey as a professional whilst making this
art form more visible.
Over the last couple of years, each time I have given a recital, members of the audience have asked
where they could buy one of my CDs. Someone even approached me and said “If your voice is not
recorded – it would be a tragedy”. In 2017, I sang for Prince Jonathan Doria Pamphilj in Rome and
he pointed out to me that it was important for me “to document my story as an artist, otherwise it
would be lost in history”. Having now heard this suggestion twice, it felt like there was some kind
of higher power talking to me and so I thought it best to act on it. Hence, with the support of my
mentors, friends and audience members, this album has been created. I would not be here without
their continued love and support.
LOVE & PRAYER was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in January 2018. If it had been up to me, this
album would have been recorded with piano only as I was not sure if the size of the orchestra I
could hire would provide the right musical balance for the arias that I wanted to sing. However, my
manager introduced me to a special man called John Bakewell who brought together an incredible
group of musicians. All outstanding players, ranging from 29 to 84 years of age, many of whom had
been his colleagues from the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. I feel very blessed and honoured
Vissi d’arte (Tosca), Puccini
Floria Tosca, a famous soprano, wonders why God allows her to be persecuted by the villainous
Scarpia, when she has lived only for art and for love.
Casta diva (Norma), Bellini
Norma, a Druid priestess, prays to the ‘chaste goddess’ of the moon to bring peace and healing to
her suffering people.
Timor di me?… D’amor sull’ali rosee (Il trovatore), Verdi
Leonora stands outside the prison which holds her condemned lover Manrico and hopes that her
faith will sustain him.
È strano! Ah, fors’è lui…. Sempre libera (La traviata), Verdi
Violetta, a sophisticated courtesan, ponders on an offer of love from the handsome and naive young
Alfredo. But then she resolves to forget all about him and continue her life of pleasure.
Morrò, ma prima in grazia (Un ballo in maschera), Verdi
Amelia’s husband wrongly suspects her of infdelity and plans to kill her, but she begs one last
moment with her child before she dies.
Ritorna vincitor! (Aida), Verdi
Aida is an Ethiopian princess living in captivity in Egypt under the service of Amneris. She has fallen
in love with the Egyptian warrior Radamès – her enemy – and is torn between wishing his success in
battle and wishing for the triumph of her own people.
O Patria mia (Aida), Verdi
Aida’s father has forced her to discover military secrets from her lover. While waiting for Radamès
to come to her, she feels the pain of her imminent betrayal, but also longs for the peace of her
Ave Maria (Otello), Verdi
Desdemona, distraught at the unwarranted jealousy and violence of her husband Otello, pours out
her sorrow to the Virgin Mary.
Quando m’en vo (La bohème), Puccini
Musetta’s former lover is pretending to ignore her in a crowded café, so she attempts to make him
notice her. In this aria, she playfully boasts about the attention she gets when she strolls through
the streets of Paris.
Dove sono (Le nozze di Figaro), Mozart
After expressing her sorrow at vanished happiness, the Countess fnds strength and hope in her
Ave Maria, Schubert
Schubert originally composed this melody for a German translation of verses (‘The Lady of the Lake’)
by Walter Scott, but it has become more widely known in this Latin version which uses the text of the
simple and well-known prayer of intercession to the Virgin Mary.