Thursday, 11 August 2022

Singer resolved to pursue her dream of a music career

MORE than 10 years ago, Elizabeth Watts sat with notepad in hand contemplating the crossroads in her life.

MORE than 10 years ago, Elizabeth Watts sat with notepad in hand contemplating the crossroads in her life.

Fresh from finishing her university course in archaeology at Sheffield University and performing alongside a male voice choir in Whitley, Watts had to choose between the two.

On the notepad were written her “Whitley Resolutions”, a list of things she set herself to complete before she could think about attending music college.

The second option was to turn her back on music and take a masters in archaeology.

Now, thoughts of a career in archaeology are as dead and buried as some of the ancient ruins she may have studied, as she prepares for a sell-out show at Reading’s Concert Hall on Sunday.

Watts said: “I’ve always sung but I when I was younger I wasn’t that musical. I used to do lots of other things as well.

“It was when I went to university that I became really interested in singing and the most difficult type is opera, so that’s what I went for.

“After I finished my dissertation I did the concert in Whitley and afterwards I sat there and thought I could either do the masters or go off and do singing.

“I bought a notepad and wrote my ‘Whitley Resolutions’, which were things like learning the piano, learning music theory and getting better with languages.”

After completing her resolutions, Watts attended the Royal College of Music in 2002 and began a meteoric rise in the world of classical and opera music.

She was selected by the Young Classical Artist Trust in 2004, won the 2006 Kathleen Ferrier Prize, the 2007 Outstanding Young Artist Award at the Cannes MIDEM Classique Awards and gained international recognition at the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, winning the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize.

Between 2005 and 2007 she was a member of English National Opera’s Young Singers Programme, where she appeared in operas including The Marriage of Figaro, L’Orfeo and Henry Purcell’s King Arthur.

Watts said: “I think opera and classical music is thriving at the moment.

“There are some great shows and lots of education projects available at the moment.

“However, sometimes audiences can’t tell the difference between someone using a microphone and a ‘proper’ opera singer who doesn’t!”

Watts has performed at renowned UK venues including Wigmore Hall in London and the Cheltenham Festival.

She has also travelled the world with her music, staging shows in Norway, Madrid, Paris and Zürich.

But Watts says performing in front of a British audience will always be a special experience to her.

She said: “Audiences are quite similar the world over but it’s nice to have a home crowd. I’ll say a few words and maybe get a laugh or two.

“Travelling around the world for my job is both a perk and a downside at the same time. It’s great to travel but I have to spend time away from my home and husband.”

Now living in Somerset, Watts’ Reading show will feature the works of composers Franz Schubert, Richard Strauss and Hector Berlioz, with music provided by pianist Roger Vignoles.Watts said: “I first met Roger when I was at college and I’ve worked with him many times since.

“I’ve been to Reading many times and I’ve also been invited to perform at the Abbey School in Kendrick Road by director of music Stephen Willis. He comes to a lot of my concerts.

“Schubert is one of my favourite composers. He wrote more than 600 songs and many of them were on my first album.

“I’ll also be performing Malven by Strauss, which is commonly known as his “fifth Last Song” and was the last one he ever wrote.”

The concert will be held at the Concert Hall in Blagrave Street, on Sunday starting at 7.30pm. Call the box office on 0118 960 6060 or visit

There will also be a free pre-concert talk by Philip Hesketh at Reading Town Hall in Blagrave Street at 6.15pm.

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