Kate Royal’s name may not be instantly recognisable, but she is fast emerging as one of our great lyric sopranos. At the age of only 29, she has an exclusive contract with EMI and is booked to sing in the world’s major opera houses and concert halls. She is impressing both music critics and audiences with her ravishing voice and her statuesque beauty. But since many young artists who are prematurely praised fail to fulfil their potential, those looking after her interests guard her vigilantly. An interview with Gordon Brown would be easier to obtain.
In fact, Kate’s schedule is so hectic that she has time to speak only on the telephone. And while her interview technique is very polished, not seeing the whites of her eyes is disconcerting. Royal is articulate and accommodating (with a mellifluous speaking voice, reminiscent of her singing) but quickly tells me when my time is up. Her self-confidence is impressive.
‘I never dreamed of being an opera singer,’ she says, ‘but music and theatre were always a huge part of my life. My parents took me to my first opera aged 16 and I was enthralled. My mother was a dancer and my father a singer/songwriter. I always knew that I wanted to be in the performing arts in some way.’
After school Kate went to the Guildhall School of Music and then the National Opera Studio — a high-profile showcase and stepping-stone for promising singers. In 2004 she won the Kathleen Ferrier and John Christie awards, to name but two. Sir Simon Rattle ‘spotted’ her in Idomeneo at Glyndebourne, while she was in the chorus. ‘Amazing what three bars of singing can do,’ says Royal. ‘He wanted to meet me and work with me to help develop my career.