The Spectator today publishes my exclusive interview with Catherine Foster, Bayreuth’s Brünnhlde for the past six summers, whom no British opera company has asked to sing a major role.
Why ever not?
Every summer for the past six years, Bayreuth has risen to its feet to acclaim an English Brünnhilde. Catherine Foster, from Nottingham, was the heroine of Frank Castorf’s anti-capitalist staging of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle. The director was booed to the rafters, the singer hailed as saviour. Three perfectionist conductors, Kirill Petrenko, Marek Janowski and Christian Thielemann, insisted on her return each year. Across Europe, Foster commands the roles of Elektra, Isolde, Senta (Flying Dutchman) and Turandot. At 44, she is approaching her vocal prime.
So it is a bit odd to find that no British company has offered her a leading role, or presently plans to do so. Six years of ovations at Bayreuth count for nothing in Blighty. Something has gone fairly rotten in our state-subsidised system if a regnant British soprano cannot get a call from Covent Garden.
I decided to make the call myself, catching Catherine Foster on WhatsApp as she was looking forward to a summer spent cultivating her garden. Bayreuth is resting the Ring and this is her first holiday since 2013. ‘I love my garden,’ she assures me in a mid-Midlands accent that would have set D.H. Lawrence purring…
Read on here.