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Musical World

Kate Royal

  • Soprano


Kate Royal press reviews

Don Giovanni
Glyndebourne 2010

a cool and intelligent Donna Elvira from Kate Royal (straight out of 'La Dolce Vita' - how does she manage to clamber down the steeply raked set so elegantly in a tight skirt and high heels?)
David Gillard / Daily Mail / 8 July 2010

Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko – Berg’s Seven Early Songs 
Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

Kate Royal was the soloist, sumptuous and sensual
Tim Ashley / The Guardian / 28 February 2010

Handel - La Resurrezione
Le Concert d'Astree - Virgin Classics

"From her first utterance of "Notte funeste", Kate Royal registers as a deeply emotive Mary Magdelene: her unutterably beautiful timbre is perfect for this character, with every phrase elegantly shaped.  She does, in fact get some of the best orchestrations in her pathetic arias: "Ferma l'ali" and "Per me gia di morire"."
Drew Minter, Opera News March 2010

Thomas Ades - The Tempest
The Royal Opera House / EMI Classics

"Kate Royal is a fresh, radiant, passionate Miranda"
Christopher Ballantine, Opera, October 2009

"Miranda, soprano Kate Royal delivers an exquisite aria in the first scene that is the first ray of sunshine in the score."
Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News, October 2009

"Das Liebespaar Miranda und Ferdinand wird von Kate Royal und Toby Spence innig und intensiv gestaltet. Hier knistert es, die Chemie stimmt."
B. Kempen, Das Opernglas, June 2009


Kate Royal: Midsummer Night / EMI Classics

"Kate Royal’s imaginatively assembled recital of 20th century arias……the soprano’s lush voice, in the royal line of Kiri and Renee, may not exude drama but her diction is lucid and her phrasing consistently thoughtful."
Opera Now, September/October 2009

Royal's vocals are 'succulently delivered and quite irresistible'
With recital discs, a singer can go in either of two directions: one path sticks to familiar territory, the other veers toward pastures new. Congratulations to Kate Royal for adopting the adventurous route in her second CD. True, this lustrous young British soprano alights upon Vilja from Lehár’s Merry Widow, but have you ever heard that operetta jewel next to a morsel from Peter Grimes?
Aside from surprising conjunctions, Royal has been trawling with profit through lesser-known English-language operas such as Walton’s Troilus and Cressida, Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights and William Alwyn’s Miss Julie. You never know what’s coming next, or indeed in what language: Czech, German, prancing French (Messager’s Monsieur Beaucaire).
And all in the name of love, as enjoyed and suffered by female characters in operas and operettas from across the 20th century. Much of the music is pensive, decorated with birdlike flutes and piccolos or the plink of a refined harp — details brightly supplied by the Orchestra of English National Opera and their conductor Edward Gardner. But Royal’s voice is the best instrument of all: a voice of strong, liquid beauty, unfaltering in any register, never more thrilling than when pealing or gliding in long breaths.
Sometimes, though, we suffer from an excess of Royal’s strengths.Her majestic voice isn’t always suited to the material. A veteran of the Governess’s role in The Turn of the Screw, she has no problem quaking with dramatic anguish during the opera’s tower scene. But another Britten selection, Tiny’s song from Paul Bunyan, needs lighter artillery. There and elsewhere, Royal’s power can smudge the character’s outlines and diminish our emotional involvement. The plush recording acoustics play their part, underlining the shadow on Royal’s success: her soft articulation of words.
But no one should be unhappy for long. Some of the rarities are delicious, none more than the limpid romance of Midsummer Night, from Miss Julie. Royal is properly creamy and lilting in the Lehár — a delight blotted only by the overly hearty Crouch End Festival Chorus. And she leaves us with Marietta’s song from Korngold’s Die tote Stadt — plush sofa music, succulently delivered. And quite irresistible.
Geoff Brown, The Times, May 1 2009


This marvellous disc is a real delight and it triumphantly confirms Kate Royal as one of the finest British singers working today.  The theme of the recital is derived from the first aria from Alwyn’s Miss Julie: based on Strindberg’s play, Alwyn’s opera deals with Julie’s forbidden obsession with her father’s manservant.  She sings of Midsummer Night as “a night for love, a night for laughter, No thought for tomorrow of what may come after.”  All the characters in this collection of 20th century operas have had their heads turned by love to some degree, but all in very different ways, from Rusalka who pours out her heart to the moon, to Britten’s Governess who muses on her handsome employer before the unnerving appearance of Peter Quint.  The programme is very well chosen and helps to remind us, in the words of the booklet note, “how lyrical much of the 20th-Century repertoire actually is.”
The most striking thing about the recital is not just the lush beauty of Royal’s voice, which can be taken for granted.  One is immediately struck by the fullness of her tone and a wonderful, creamy richness at the top of the register.  No: the most memorable thing about this collection is how marvellous a vocal actor Royal proves herself to be.  Listen, for example, to the aria from The Turn of the Screw: we are taken in, like the Governess, by the overflowing bliss of the summer evening – magically evoked by the ENO woodwinds – and entirely disarmed by her idyllic reflections on her employer; but as soon as Quint’s ghost appears on the tower a chill runs through the voice and in less than a minute we are engulfed in paranoid terror.  The same ability to turn on a pinhead is seen in Ellen’s Embroidery aria: she moves from rich memories with a hint of nostalgia to a vacant denial of the truth she refuses to face.  By the end of the aria she has had all of her optimism truly knocked out of her in a heartbreaking way, punctuated by those pitiless woodwind chords delivered like blows to the chest.
Other heroines are impassioned in different ways: Walton’s Cressida is driven to romantic distraction by the impossibility of her situation and Herrmann’s Cathy cannot face the prospect of life away from the heath near Wuthering Heights.  Miss Julie herself is motivated by the tantalising excitement of realising her passion for Jean while Royal’s rich voice captures the quivering anticipation of the fulfilment of desire.  Barber’s Vanessa has been unhinged by decades of waiting, and here the voice is intentionally shrill to reflect the character’s shock of her meeting with Anatol.  The arias that have a folk background all come across exceptionally well too.  Royal adapts just as well to the gentle simplicity of Susannah’s aria and to the innocence of Tiny’s memory of her mother. 
Yet there is sweet brightness to her assumption of Hanna’s Viljalied, and Rusalka’s Song to the Moon has lush, lyrical tone.  Both here and in Messager’s Nightingale Song the aristocratic bearing of Royal’s tone reminded me of Renée Fleming, though that is not to cheapen by comparison.  From the oriental chinoiserie of Stravinsky’s Nightingale to the ravishing post-Romantic beauty of Korngold’s Marietta, Royal shows herself able to meet and to surpass every challenge.  This recital is never less than beautiful and frequently it is far more than that. How marvellous to hear some rare repertoire that is given such a high quality outing.
At every turn she is ably partnered by the Gardner and the ENO Orchestra.  This is as good a tribute as you will find to the fantastic musical advances that Gardner has wrought in his short time in charge: listen to Rusalka’s song, for example, and you will hear the orchestra caress each phrase with loving warmth.  It is also a testament to the quality of the event to have singers like Andrew Staples and Thomas Allen guesting in such tiny parts.  This great disc only whets the appetite to hear Royal in more complete roles, and that is as high praise for a recital disc as I can imagine.
Simon Thompson, MusicWeb International

Kate Royal’s Midsummer Night: a Review
In recent years, Kate Royal has been hailed as one of the emerging opera singers in the classical music world. The British lyric soprano is the winner of the 2004 Kathleen Ferrier Award, 2004 John Christie Award and 2007 Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award. Royal has also worked with Paul McCartney for her CD Ecce Cor Meum.
The new release, Midsummer Night, is Royal’s third CD with EMI. It is also the second time for her to work with Orchestra of English National Opera and conductor Edward Gardner. The collection includes works that depict poetic and romantic scenes composed by Britten, Korngold, Walton, Dvorak, Stravinsky, Lehar, Barber, Herrmann and Alwyn. As the title suggests, all of the works on the record illustrate the beauty of early evening. The particular focus here is on women.
Royal is fantastic here, singing in a voice that’s particularly pure. She demonstrates her capability for switching between different roles, from the idealistic Miss Julie longing for the end of class distinctions to Rusalka, who wants to be a full human in order to live with her mortal lover.
Royal’s collaboration with the chorus works particularly well on The Merry Widow of Lehar, when Royal (as Hanna) and the chorus sing about a huntsman possessed by a dryad. The orchestra itself makes for excellent company on this release. Royal has demonstrated her ability to be a top-notch singer, in line with such greats as Natalie Dessay and Anna Caterina Antonacci.
Midsummer Night is available from EMI Classics.
Jonathan Mok, Global Comment