Latest News

Whistle and I'll come for you (Mander) with Hull Urban Opera

A short, contemporary opera based on one of M.R. James short ghost stories. Fully staged with orchestra in Hull, Waterloo, April 6th to 8th 2022

Die Meistersinger (Wagner) with Music Camp

Hans Sachs, in a full concert performance of this amazing opera, in August 2022

I have called this section of my site 'Learning', partly because it includes a variety of different resources which I hope will help visitors to improve their own singing, but also partly because it is something that I do myself, constantly.  It is a very competitive world and all professional singers have to constantly strive to be the best they can, learning continuously by reading, watching, listening and doing!

I hope you find these links and snippets helpful.  Please email me any comments or suggestions for new links.  Thank you.

Breathing & Tension

Strong breath, and contol thereof, is so fundamental to singing, yet can be so elusive. There are so many conflicting and contradictory schools of thought it is no wonder students are confused about how to acquire good breath support.  In my own teaching I emphasise how important the breath is but am sometimes at a loss as to what to tell my students in the light of such contradictory advice. I usually fall back on explaining how I breathe myself, and offer that as something to try in the first instance.  However weak the breathing is to start with it will always improve, partly as a resulting of continually using the muscles, which then grow stronger, and partly as a result of a better placement and focus, which will lead to a more efficient use of the available breath.

Last summer (2013) I was introduced to Karen Saillant, a former opera singer and Artistic Director of International Opera Theater of Philadelphia, and travelled to Italy to audition for her in the beautiful Italian town of Citta della Pieve.  Each summer she runs an opera festival there which puts on brand new operas in Italian.  So far she has put on 10 world premiere Italian operas in 10 years. Quite an achievement!  It turns out she is also an expert on breathing and tension, and my audition included a short working session, during which I could immediately feel the benefit of what she was trying to get across.  I am hoping to work with Karen this year, both as a student and performer in Citta, but here is a link to her website, which includes articles on breathing.


Thanks to the power of the internet we have access to masterclasses given by many of the world's greatest singers.  Here are links to a few:

Renée Fleming: Humanitas Masterclass, part one, Oxford Dec 2013

Renée Fleming: Humanitas Masterclass, part two, Oxford Dec 2013

Great Opera Stars teaching how to sing


There are many excellent singing teachers around, as well as a lot that are voice destroyers.  Avoid like the plague any that are more concerned with themselves than their students, particular if their view is that there is only one way to sing - theirs!  All great artists and teachers are humble, only concerned with sharing their love of their art, and taking pleasure rather than glorification in the success of their students. And please, please, please do not study with anyone who has not had a professional singing career of their own!  I despair of people who set themselves up as teachers without having a clue how to do it themselves.  They are usualy pianists who have a good ear and are excellent coaches, but though they can offer their opinion (subjective, remember) on a particular sound they cannot demonstrate or explain how to achieve the sound you are striving for.  On that note, I would advise that you identify one or two singers of your own voice type that you admire the most.  You can then have a model sound in your head as a reference point and something to aim for.  For myself, I have found Boris Christoff, Cesare Siepi and George London invaluable in this way, as well as truly inspirational singers.

 As a guide to choosing or evaluating a teacher here is a very useful article by Neil Howlett - On Choosing a Singing Teacher


There are many sites containing a wealth of useful articles:

Neil Howlett is a former principal baritone at ENO , among other places, an excellent teacher and has written many useful articles on all aspects of singing and vocal technique -

Sophie Bevan's top 10 tips for becoming an opera star