Bayreuth’s Brünnhilde: Agents failed me

Catherine Foster has given a rare Uk interview, recounting how she transitioned from being  a midwife in the Midlands to one of the most sought-after sopranos on the Wagner stage.

Basically, she had to do it all herself.

After sending 100 letters and CDs to German agents, she scored three interviews. She sang Tannhäuser’s Dich, theure Halle because “most soprano arias just go on and on and I needed a one for a young singer that didn’t.” 

On her last audition, she found success in front of George Alexander Albrecht, who cast her in Wagner’s Tannhäuser as Elizabeth. She moved to Weimar “with a bed and a few bits of crockery and that was it”, having just married just six months earlier to husband Robert, who stayed back for work. The couple didn’t have the money for the long distance calls, but they stuck it out.

Read on here.

 

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  • I didn’t read the interview as “agents failed me,” I just saw “I sent a lot of letters and sang a lot of auditions, and finally someone signed me up.” From the interview, it sounds like the work came pretty steadily after that. For a success story, it sounds pretty typical.

    I’m not sure what job agents were supposed to do that they failed at…

  • It’s a story we’ve seen a thousand times and quite typical of many who have targeted Germany as their launch pad. She made it, many don’t. No story, here.

  • Don’t know the particulars in this case, but whenever I’ve been involved with one of these big-in-Germany, why-oh-why-don’t parochial British promoters hire them? artists, the answer has tended to be 1. because they’re fully booked 5 years in advance and 2. when they’re not, they demand German-level fees.

  • “most soprano arias just go on and on”… Really? It sound like the kind of gratuitous throwaway statement that nobody needs yet everybody says. Does she also declare that “most painters are boozers”, “most politicians are corrupt”, “most dancers are gay”, things like that?

  • Perhaps the fact that she was ‘transitioning from being a midwife’ could have been the reason why agents were not immediately responsive? An agent does not simply create a career out of thin air. They will have needed to see that she had work and success and strong recommendations first, and that takes time, whether you start straight out of college, or move into performing from a different path. But yet again the venomous Lebrecht wishes to grind his tiny little axe….

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