We are North London Chorus

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Meet the Soloist: Rebecca Bottone (Soprano)

We’re counting down the days until our performance of Dame Ethel Smyth’s The Prison. Premiered in 1930 and scored for soprano and baritone soloists, chorus and large orchestra, The Prison is essentially a dialogue between a dying man and his soul. The chorus provides “philosophical commentary” as the soul guides the prisoner towards peace, and towards immortality where, he is assured, “human passions remain”. NLC will be joined by renowned soprano Rebecca Bottone as The Soul. We catch up with her as she prepares for her performance.

NLC: Hi Becky, we’re thrilled to be working with you for this very special concert. The Prison will be unfamiliar to most people given it’s so rarely performed. What has been your approach to learning it and what do you think of it so far?

RB: I am very happy to be joining you! The Prison was new to me also,  I have only sung her Mass in D before. It is a very different piece, almost operatic in its storytelling, weaving in and out of the main character’s story. I love the dramatic text, you can decide what it means to you, which as an artist creates a golden opportunity for individualism in interpretation.

NLC: Who is the soul? What role does soul play in the drama?

RB: For me the soul is the main character’s thoughts that are free from the prison of his body. 

NLC: Have you ever performed music by female composers before? Why do you think composers such as Smyth have been neglected and do you see a change in the industry regarding engagement with their work?

RB: I have been lucky enough to sing repertoire by women from Clara Schumman to Rebecca Clarke and Errollyn Wallen. Women’s equality in the past created a huge barrier, this can only move forwards now and open up more opportunities.

NLC: You’re sure to make new fans at our concert; can you let them know what you’ve been doing recently?

RB: The last year has been a huge thrill to be able to do two new operas by Jonathan Dove. I am lucky enough that he has written roles for me and knows my voice well. He finds lots of ways to use the voice to display the characters beautifully which is so much fun . I did the world premiere of Itch at Opera Holland Park which is a scientific adventure story last year…I played my first baddie!! I have now just finished the UK premiere of his new opera Marx in London! at Scottish Opera which is a comedy about Karl Marx’s private life.

NLC: Finally, what would you say to a potential audience member who is wondering whether to give our concert a go?

RB: This piece is full of scrumptious melodies and heightened drama. Come and decide who you think the prisoner is!

NLC: Thanks for your time Becky! 

Tickets for the performance on 16 March can be purchased here.