Was Wagner something you always wanted to sing?

I definitely didn’t have Wagner in mind in the early days, or indeed any particular composer at all. A young singer just wants a paid job, and tries to improve their technique and musicianship by learning appropriate repertoire. ‘Appropriate’ is the key word here. Wagner is not something that gets suggested to students at the outset of their studies. The dramatic German repertoire is for more mature, advanced singers who already have a sizeable instrument and a good command of technique.

As I matured vocally, more and more people suggested that Wagner might be for me, mostly because of the size and colour of my mezzo voice. Although I had done some of the smaller Ringroles like the Rheinmaidens, Norns, and Valkyries before I moved to Germany in 2005, it was only after intensive language and technical study that I found myself singing some of the larger roles.

Deborah Humble as Erda in Wagner’s Siegfried

Who would be your Wagner role models?

Of this generation I admire Waltraud Meier and Nina Stemme. I have worked on stage a lot with Deborah Polaski and been...