★★★  Inter Act  ★★★
with
Dame Felicity Lott DBE, FRAM, FRCM
Felicity
Felicity
1
Emma:
As French was your first study, have you sung more French material than others?
Felicity:
I always wanted to ‘do something’ with French and I’ve certainly sung a lot of French repertoire - mainly songs, not many operas: ‘Louise’, ‘Les Dialogues des Carmélites’, ‘La Voix Humaine’…. I think that’s it, apart from the two Offenbach operettas ‘La Belle Hélène’ and ‘La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein’. Many songs, though, with piano and with orchestra.
Felicity
2
Emma:
If not, what language have you performed the most?
Felicity:
Probably German, as I spent years going round the world singing the operas of Richard Strauss. And I’ve sung a lot of Lieder.
Felicity
3
Emma:
Do you have a favourite language to sing in?
Felicity:
I suppose I must say French, but I enjoy singing in any language I can speak - even English! I’ve been very bad about singing in languages I don’t know because I found it impossible to learn the words without properly understanding how they fitted together.
Felicity
4
Emma:
What is your pre-performance ritual, if any?
Felicity:
I try to have a lazy day, or at least, to get a rest and some peace and quiet in the afternoon. I don’t like people around me on a performance day. I like to get to the theatre early and either take time doing my make-up or having lots of time for the make-up artist to do it. I hate to feel rushed.
Felicity
5
Emma:
Do you sing every day and, if so, are there things that you always do?
Felicity:
I certainly don’t sing every day now…I’m rather ashamed of that. But I used to be so tired after a major rôle on stage that I thought a day off singing would be good for my vocal cords. Rather belatedly I began to realise that it was better if I did sing every day! But I would mainly do gentle exercises, or use passages of the music I was learning or performing. Mozart’s ‘Alleluia’ was a favourite warm-up piece. Or the beginning of 'Per pietà’ from ‘Così fan tutte’. When I was in ‘Follies’ last year - it seems a lifetime ago - the whole cast would be called to the stage for a warm-up session, vocal and physical, and that was great. I do some of the vocal warm-up stuff now.
Felicity
6
Emma:
Have you a favourite performance memory? (I realize nigh-on impossible to answer!)
Felicity:
Oh goodness…..quite a lot of good ones. Waiting on the stage of the Vienna Opera with Anne-Sofie von Otter at the beginning of ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and hearing the roar from the audience as Carlos Kleiber arrived in the pit. ‘La Belle Hélène’ in Paris & the beginning of the duet between Paris (pretending to be a shepherd) and Hélène (me) and the movement group crept onstage in realistic sheep costumes. The audience laughed so loudly they drowned our duet completely. The conductor was cross and it had to be toned down a bit, but those Offenbach performances were utter joy.
Felicity
7
Emma:
Do you think keyboard skills are helpful for singers?
Felicity:
Absolutely, to be able to pick out bits of the accompaniment at least. I wish I’d practised the piano more…. so many regrets! It would have been great to be able to play for singsongs around the piano, like my father could - although he did it all by ear. But seriously, to play the harmonies and hear how the vocal line fits is very valuable.
Felicity
8
Emma:
I have always loved the directness of recitals - how does that more intimate feeling compare with singing in an opera house? How different is the feeling of the audience's response?
Felicity:
I absolutely love recitals and was so lucky as a student at the RAM to meet Graham Johnson: we’ve been doing song recitals together for 50 years! But one is much more naked as a recitalist; on the opera stage you have so many things to hide behind, as well as being much further away from the audience. They are quite scary. I wouldn’t recommend singing a complete new programme too often; if possible I tried to put at least one group of old friends in amongst the new repertoire. If the audience likes a recital it’s a wonderful feeling, and very obvious. The reverse is also true of course!
Felicity
9
Emma:
What is your ideal performance situation?
Felicity:
Not quite sure what you mean by this one….I would travel the day before and be well rested and well prepared. I loved long rehearsal periods - Glyndebourne was wonderful for that.
Felicity
10
Emma:
Is there particular music that you have sung or listened to this year to help lift your spirits?
Felicity:
Actually I don’t listen to music very much now. But I have watched and listened to lots of the Wigmore broadcasts and streaming and have found that very moving.
Felicity
11
Emma:
Would you have changed the order of anything along your singing path?
Felicity:
I don’t think so.
Felicity
12
Emma:
Do you have any advice for:
1) actors and singers who can't work at the moment and
2) student performers currently undergoing auditions?
Felicity:
I wouldn’t presume to offer advice. I had so many good intentions when all this started and what happened to them?! But I am, shall we say, of retirement age, which complicates things a bit, in my mind at least. I would suggest that people who can’t work at the moment try to use the time to read or study something they haven’t had time for before, so that something positive comes out of this. But if you haven’t got enough to live on, that’s not a lot of help.

For the students undergoing auditions….I was totally useless at auditions and competitions so I’m not best placed. If I could be in something, when I was pretending to be someone else and acting a part I could sometimes be convincing, but just as scared Felicity from Cheltenham I was hopeless. I did one successful audition in my life, for Glyndebourne and Bernard Haitink, who said ‘we all hate auditions so please don’t worry’. Somehow the thought that the person judging might feel ill at ease too was helpful. I hated recording too, but tried to think that the microphone was someone I loved, so perhaps try to feel that way about the person judging - not going too far, of course!
Felicity
13
Emma:
Do you have time for any hobbies and, if so, what?
Felicity:
Gardening mainly. Reading….I used to knit and sew a million years ago.
Felicity
14
Emma:
Have you had a favourite dress?
Felicity:
Perhaps two….when Ann Murray and I were asked to sing at the last night of the Proms and I’d just been made a Dame, I had a dress made by Bruce Oldfield and I felt like a fairy princess….an ageing one maybe, but it was divine. And a few years before that I was giving an all Poulenc recital at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées with Graham, and I had a dress made for me by Givenchy. It cost a fortune but I felt wonderful.
I'd like to thank Felicity for being so generous with her time and giving my clients so much positivity.

If you'd like to visit Felicity's web site, here is the link:

felicitylott.de

Return to Emma's Voiceblog
12th. November, 2020