You are my only fave soprano, ever! Thank you so much for this interview! Just so everyone knows, I put my questions/voice in regular type. I put Charlotte’s answers/voice in italics. So, let’s get rolling!
Resa: – Charlotte, have you ever worn an expensive costume, and spilled something on it, torn it or otherwise perhaps even ruined it?
Charlotte: I can remember two occasions with costumes/dresses that I was performing in that I owned. However, stage costume wise no mishaps happily. Touch wood! I’m always really careful.
I was at Edvard Grieg’s house in Troldhaugen, Norway. I was about to perform in the composer’s home. It’s a converted living museum, with his original piano and lots of important antiques around. It has a beautiful concert hall.
In the green room in the basement of the house, I was with the other singers from the workshop. Another person had just made herself a fresh hot red berry tea. She spun around and spilt it down my tight-fitting, gold sequin evening dress. She was horrified and pregnant, so I spent a minute telling her it was fine.
The boiling hot liquid was all over the tops of my thighs in a huge red berry puddle. When I felt the heat, I ran to the toilet. The dress’s tight fit made the dress cling, and taking it off was a nightmare. I ripped it off over my head and quickly, with everyone’s help, put cold water on my thighs. They rescheduled my songs till later in the programme. I washed the liquid out under the tap and tried to dry it as best I could. It was the only performance dress I had with me, so just before the performance I put it back on. It was like a wet suit, but I wasn’t not going to perform or sing in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I still have the dress. The dry cleaners managed to get the stain out.
The other costume mishap was at the Llangollen Eisteddfod last year. I was going to be performing with the World-renowned tenor Rolando Villazon and was very excited about it. I’d always wanted a Sherri Hill dress, and this was a perfect excuse to invest in a beautiful ball gown stage dress. I was so excited about wearing it. It was a princess line, in pale lilac satin. I’d bought a new strong roll-on deodorant; one of those that last 48 hours. I put my deodorant on, then put my dress on. I normally put my shoes on first, and step into a dress like this carefully. But this deodorant was still wet. I leant forward to tie my shoe buckles, and I then had two perfect wet circles on the front skirt of the dress with no time to do anything about it.
Perhaps I should be more careful with gowns I own!
Resa: Speaking of gowns, I only wish I could have been around to supply you with Balcony Gowns, during the lockdown. I watched and listened to ALL of your balcony performances with George. I’m thrilled that “Je Veux Vivre” will be among the songs on your upcoming CD!
Resa: Have you ever had to wear a costume that fit you like….umm… a ship? Did it affect your vocal performance, or your acting performance?
Charlotte: So far, I’ve worn everything without complaint. The worst for me are shoes that are uncomfortable because most costume people will just adjust wrong fitting items.
I do remember two awkward costumes, but they were from my childhood. I had a costume as ‘Pumba’ in the Lion King. In order to give me more girth, the costume department attached a hula hoop to my trousers. It was fun, and the costume was light. However, it did impact on my spacial awareness. I had to be careful not to bump into the other dancers, and it was awkward to roll around in.
The next one was when I performed as King Louis, from The Jungle Book. The costume department wanted to elongate my arms so they attached mop poles within my costume arms. At the end of the poles, they attached huge purple hands. The costumers put orange/red fur sleeves over my arms and hands, to disguise the added length. I had to make orangutan gestures with those arms. It was really fun, but challenging. I took care not to hit anyone else. Yet, there was a hood that came over my eyes, which made taking care more difficult 😊. I’d love to do something like that again in an opera.
Resa: Oh, Charlotte! thank you so much for sending in these photos of when you were that cute Orangutan! Everyone will love how cute you are in the slideshow!
Resa: As an Opera Soprano, who are your 3 fave female Rock Singers (living or not)? What song from each would you like to sing?
Charlotte: Annie Lennox – I love her views on singing. She really believes “Singing a song is one thing, but expressing a song is another. It’s deep. There is magic, an alchemic quality. Everyone should feel free to sing. Singing is uplifting and freeing of your spirit. There are no rules”. I’m not sure which song I could manage because I think she’s a contralto/mezzo but I love ‘Walking on Broken Glass’.
I grew up listening to female singers like Blondie [Heart of Glass or Call Me]. Is Kate Bush considered rock? Some of her tracks sound it to me; perhaps Babooshka. Gwen Stefani I loved her songs in No Doubt like Don’t Speak.
Resa: I’d say Kate is in an Art Rock category. She really is an independent artist.
Resa: I’d love to see you and George do a set of Rock Classics – Any songs between 1968 – 1998! What songs would your set include?
Female rock singers I like are usually in the mezzo-soprano middle voice range. Maybe one of Taylor Swifts songs, a Bjork song or Evanescence’s Wake me Up Inside. My Dad loves Queen so something adapted from them maybe. Are Prince, Alicia Keys and Blondie considered rock? Perhaps you could give me some suggestions Resa, I asked my Mum and she said perhaps something by Stevie Nicks.
Resa: Those all sound like great options. Yes, Prince, Alicia Keys and Blondie are all in rock categories. I would love to hear you do a Stevie Nicks song! Of course Freddie Mercury had a great set of pipes, and you are a very colourful singer. I’m sure something could be adapted for you. Just thinking about it gives me shivers!
Resa: Who is your fave male Opera Singer? Which would you pick to do a duet with?
Charlotte: My favourite is tricky. I really enjoyed singing with Rolando Villazon. I also like listening to Joseph Calleja. I met Piotr Beczala, and he was just lovely and friendly. All of them, anybody! I’ve had some great male singers in all my performances.
Resa: Would you ever do a Rock Opera; say the role of Nora played by Anne Margaret in “Tommy” by the Who, or how about Janet Vice in the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”?
Charlotte: Definitely. I absolutely love being on the stage and I like trying out different genres it keeps me on my toes. I was a dancer in The Rocky Horror Picture Show when I was younger so I know Janet’s songs inside out and would love to do it. I’ve never heard of The Who’s rock opera but I’ll have a listen now, yes, bring it on.
Resa: Charlotte and I began this journey over a year ago. I began by drawing her face, to get a feel.
Resa: I needed to loosen up, so binge listened to Weber -Kommt Ein Schlanker Bursch Gengangen and did Crazy Free Art to Music. The abstract of Charlotte’s face, below the video, was the result.
Resa: I did some gown sketches, and asked Charlotte what operas they might be appropriate for. I tried so hard to do my best drawings, that they came out stiff/out of proportion. Although I quite like all of the designs, this is the only one I still like the drawing of. I will redo the others.
Charlotte: The white dress reminds me of wedding dresses, so Suzanna in ‘La Nozze di Figaro’ or Zerlina in Don Giovanni, or Elvira in the mad scene in ‘il Puritani’. Another new aria I’ve learned is Qui La Voce.
Resa: Here’s another design I did for Charlotte, during the loosening up period. She adores the colours!
My Website http://www.charlotte-hoather.com/music/
✨ Stay tuned for the release date of Charlotte and George’s CD! ✨
Drawings by & © Resa McConaghy – 2019 – 2020