Internationally acclaimed soprano Lauren Fagan will make her Australian debut at the upcoming Joyous Reminiscence – Symphony Series 1 after returning home to Australia in 2020.
Hometown: I grew up in Turramurra on Sydney’s North Shore – I had a wonderful childhood filled with sport and creative activities. I vividly remember either swimming, rollerblading or playing up in trees with my brother and sister right up until the moment we had to go to bed.
Education: My High School was Monte Sant Angelo Mercy College North Sydney, after school I completed a Business degree at Macquarie University and worked for three years in an IT Sales Manager role. Whilst working, I was also a Dame Nellie Melba Opera Trust scholar and working hard on developing my voice. In 2012 I was accepted onto the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, and following that, the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at London’s Royal Opera House.
I knew I’d make a career in music when: I sang my first complete operatic role at the Guildhall – this was the first time I really experienced the immense joy and exhilaration of opera.
If I weren’t a professional opera singer I’d be: back in the Business world or working in the administration side of the Arts. I have quite a structured mind, love to multitask and work well under pressure.
Do you come from a musical household? How did your love of singing evolve?
I don’t have any other musicians in my family however most of my family have now developed a love and appreciation for opera. I found classical singing myself, at primary school my amazing primary school music teacher (Mrs Vierboom) recognised that I had a voice and encouraged me to join choirs and take part in musicals, then as I grew older my voice naturally lent itself to classical technique.
Describe the best thing about being an opera singer: the feeling in a rehearsal or performance where every single person in the room is captured in the same musical moment. This combined experience and atmosphere is what I have missed so much during the course of no public performances.
Finish this sentence: Music to me is……… balm to the soul.
Who has influenced you most as a musician? Sharolyn Kimmorley my vocal coach and friend. She has been beside me since I first started classical singing training back in high school and has instilled in me an incredibly meticulous work ethic when it comes to preparing the music I will sing.
In addition to your voice do you play any instruments? Very sadly no. I would love to be able to play piano well as it would be incredibly helpful for my learning. During school I had short-lived attempts at trumpet, flute and piano, but it was always singing that felt most natural.
What is your favourite operatic repertoire and why do you love it? If had to choose it would be verismo music, specifically Puccini. His music has moments where just hearing a few bars can evoke a wave of crushing emotion no matter where or when I hear it – It is also very satisfying to sing.
Name three things people may not know about you?
- This Adelaide performance will be the first time that I perform professionally in Australia
- At school I was the Sports Captain and not really known for any particular musical talent.
- I’ve recently discovered that I love surfing!
You’ll be performing Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the ASO please tell us about the piece? Written in 1947, the piece is written for soprano and orchestra and uses text from a 1938 short prose piece by James Agee. The text is written in the persona of a young boy and combined with Barber’s music immediately conjures a nostalgic and serene evening in the American South. This is my first time singing this piece and so far, I am loving the tricky, syncopated rhythms and the onomatopoeic elements of the piece.
What piece of music never fails to move you? Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder! I love listening to different sopranos and conductors performing this piece and finding their way through Strauss’ extraordinary phrases. It’s also the piece that Dane and I debuted together with the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra in China a few years ago.
Do you speak any other languages? I have dedicated a huge part of 2020 to improving my German and am very pleased to finally be at a solid B1 level.
2020 was the year that we did things differently, some took to making sourdough, what did you do differently in 2020? I have done far too many online YouTube aerobics workouts to keep myself sane during lockdown, I also signed up to weekly German lessons which I’ve kept up with even though now being in Australia the time difference means they fall at 6am (!) Also, my appreciation for Australia has grown tenfold… I didn’t plan to be back here at all this year, but now that I am, I couldn’t be happier being safe and close to family.