Meet the Artist……Melinda Hughes, opera singer & satirical performer

Who or what inspired you to make a career in music?

I always loved singing; I was head of choir and always took the lead in plays and musicals at school – I suppose it was a natural progression really however I didn’t really get into opera until I was studying for my A levels when I would take walking breaks and listen to Don Giovanni. It opened up a whole new world for me.

Who or what were the most important influences on your playing/composing?

As far as influential music for our cabaret it would be music from the 1930’s. My Smoke and Noise CD was an attempt at a modern day response to the arched and rather piquant songs by Berlin composer Mischa Spoliansky. I also adore Kurt Weil for his complexity, Sondheim for his superb word play and harmonies and Friedrich Hollander for the political content.Today there’s no better inspiration on the scene than Fascinating Aida; I’m a huge fan.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

The greatest challenge was when I injured my neck about six years ago and found that opera for me at the time was posed a threat to my physical safety. I was in so much pain and was working very hard trying to fulfil contracts but I had to take some time out and it took a long time for things to settle down. It was a scary time because the one thing I lived for suddenly seemed in jeopardy. That was when I started to write comic songs and form Kiss & Tell cabaret with Jeremy Limb.

Which performances/compositions/recordings are you most proud of?

Our most successful song is ‘Carbon Footprints in my Jimmy Choos’, but really whatever we write at the time I enjoy the most, especially if it’s newsworthy. Our newest song ‘The holiday song’ was a huge hit when we first performed it which made us so proud. I love to hear people laughing at our jokes.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?

I’ve sung at the Cadogan Hall a few times, even though its large I adore the space and it’s so close to home so I feel very relaxed. It’s also a thrill to sing at Queen Elizabeth Hall. I like the big venues as I tend to up my game and sing better !

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

I love performing Mozart as I love the discipline and the beauty. The finale of The Marriage of Figaro is just as close to heaven as it gets for me. Equally I love the freedom of expression of the cabaret, especially performing the songs we have written, we can ad-lib and change lyrics to make them as up to date as possible. If I were going to a concert it would either have to be a Beethoven piano concerto or symphony or Prince who I have seen nine times in concert. I’m a die-hard Prince fan.

Who are your favourite/most inspirational musicians and performers?

For image and interpretation I would say Ute Lemper. For comic genius, Fascinating Aida and for beauty of the voice and expression, Maria Friedman. I worked with her on The King and I. She is a superb singer and actress… just top class.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Touring around the USA singing Madame Butterfly was truly an amazing experience, I have some superb memories of singing with Andre Rieu; The ICC, a ten thousand seater venue in Berlin and the Philharmonic Hall in Cologne which has the most sensational acoustics.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Never underestimate the power of collaboration. Also get yourself out there: nowadays social media is so important and I personally love the idea of a fusion of art forms and mediums, It’s the future.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m frantic with the Edinburgh Preview as I just had an initial meeting with Daniel Slater my director and he has changed the order of the songs which means a big script re-write but I work well under pressure and his ideas are great.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

I love what I do and just would like a steady stream of work with creative and inspirational people.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness is to have as many as the boxes ticked as possible; music, love, working with talented people and a glass of champagne once the first night is done and dusted; I’m looking forward to that…

What is your most treasured possession?

My boyfriend gave me the most beautiful necklace for my birthday last year which I adore. I love my hardback opera scores which each hold special memories of productions.

What do you enjoy doing most?

If it’s not singing, its swimming in the sea. I’d love to live near the sea one day.

What is your present state of mind?

Very happy and that’s a hard thing for me to achieve.

Melinda Huges will be presenting her show ‘French Kiss’ with her very own Cabaret group Kiss & Tell at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013 on 2nd-10th August.

Melinda graduated with Honours from The Maastricht Conservatory, The Netherlands under Mya Besselink, then as a postgraduate from the Royal College of Music, London studying with Graziella Sciutti and Lillian Watson. She completed her studies at Brussels Opera Studio. For three years Melinda toured Europe’s concert halls as a soloist with The André Rieu Strauss Orchestra often appearing on television and radio.

Opera roles performed include: Tosca, Madame Butterfly, Rachel (La Juive), Fiordilgi, Mimi, Violetta, Donna Anna, The Countess, Pamina, Nedda, Marzelline, Ninette (l’amour des trios Oranges) Constanze, Frasquita, Gilda and Eurydice. She also covered Lady Thiang for Raymond Gubbay’s production of The King and I and has an extensive German Operetta repertoire as well as musical theatre.

Concerts include Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (Auditorio Nacional, Madrid), Britten’s War Requiem (Norwich Cathedral), Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Händel’s Messiah (Oxford Philharmonia & Orquestra & di Córdoba, Spain) as well as recitals at St Martin in the Fields, St John’s Smith Square and The Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. She made a premier recording of Nunez’ Stabat Mater in Seville for Almaviva Records and her voice was used in the Rugby Six Nations League theme tune, Melinda was also part of Rankin & Sky Arts Street Campaign in 2011.

Her new Album Smoke and Noise (Nimbus) featuring songs by 1930’s composer Spolianksy and her satirical group “Kiss & Tell” received rave reviews in the UK and US. She has performed her satirical cabaret with her co-writer Jeremy Limb at The Hay Literary Festival, Cadogan Hall, Pizza on the Park, The Pheasantry and appeared with Barry Humphries on Radio 4.

She studies with Nelly Miriciouiu.

www.melindahughes.com

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