Welsh mezzo soprano Katherine Jenkins is performing in Auckland and Christchurch in May 2020. She tells What’s Hot New Zealand her path to opera stardom began in her church choir.
You have performed for the Queen and for the Pope, at the Rugby World Cup and in Afghanistan for British troops – has there been a favourite? It’s really hard to pick a favourite. So many were on my bucket list, like singing for the Welsh rugby team or at the Sydney Opera House. Being asked to sing for Her Majesty the Queen is just totally surreal and doing the war zones – which definitely wasn’t something I dreamed of as a child – have been some of my best and proudest memories.
What piqued your interest in a career in opera? I come from a very normal background in Wales. My parents never played classical music at home, I didn’t see an orchestra or an opera till my teens and it was really down to my love of singing in the church choir that sent me on this path. As a chorister I had been training my voice in that pure, lyrical way from the age of seven and so when I started having lessons the teacher recommended we try some Italian classical songs and it just felt right. I think I fell in love with the style there and then.
What is your favourite operatic role or aria to perform? Being a mezzo soprano it has to be Carmen. The music is incredible, every aria is a hit that people recognise and I love that Carmen is such a minx!
What are your pre- and post-performance rituals? I think all performers have rituals and are quite superstitious. I need to do my dinner, sound check, hair and makeup all in a certain order. I put my right shoe on before my left and I always say a prayer and have a little word with my late father before I walk out on stage.
You have a busy career and now two children under five – do you get to relax and unwind? Ha no! Relax?? I think I have forgotten what that words means with my two little ones! Becoming a mum is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m obsessed with them both and they inspire me daily to be the best version of myself, on and off stage. I think they have given me a new emotion to my music.
May 24, 2020, Auckland Town Hall, Auckland
May 25, 2020, Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch