Lauren Fagan. Photo: Victoria Cadisch
Rising young soprano (2012 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship runner-up) Lauren Fagan has been selected as a finalist in the 2019 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition in June.
“(I am feeling) quite nervous! I am not a seasoned competition singer however as I have had plenty of time to think about and work on my repertoire, I am beginning to feel more prepared and a sense of excitement is starting to build. I am trying to think of it as a big concert and chance to perform for a huge audience as I think this will help to reduce my nerves.”
This achievement comes not long after she was presented with the prestigious Dame Heather Begg Memorial Award in 2018.
“This award was a real privilege to receive. The nature of the award is that you are nominated for it so it came as a complete shock. I can draw many parallels to the career of Dame Heather Begg and my career in these early stages. The scholarship definitely has opened up many opportunities for me to further my training and I feel very honoured that the Australian opera community is behind me and have such faith in my future.”
Lauren started singing from a very young age - in choirs through school and began singing lessons during high school, though it was not until she started university that she decided to focus on classical technique.
She grew up in a “non-operatic family”, so her passion for opera came about gradually. She says her “eyes were opened to the incredible and diverse world of opera” through excellent singing teachers and coaches.
Having taken “an alternative pathway to singing training”, Lauren was not receiving many opportunities to perform in public or assess her abilities against other young singers. She received runner-up in the 2012 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship and says this was a turning point in her singing journey.
“It was an incredible confidence boost to be recognised in this way just before moving overseas.”
After her success at the 2012 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship, Lauren moved to London to complete the postgraduate Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Following this she moved to the Royal Opera House Jette Parker Young Artist Programme, sang in the Last Night of the BBC Proms and made some amazing role debuts including: Violetta, Donna Anna and Alcina.
Lauren is most proud of being accepted as a Young Artist at Covent Garden after just one year of tertiary music education. Other career highlights have included singing ‘Woglinde’ under Pappano in the Royal Opera Ring Cycle in 2018 and Violetta in La Traviata, a role that she is eager to perform again. She was also a scholar with the Dame Nellie Melba Trust for a few years before her move to London for the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, saying "They provided me with the unique ability to pursue my singing training at the same time as working full time".
Up next, Lauren hopes to fulfil her own expectations at the Cardiff Singer of the World competition. She also has some upcoming debuts around Europe and hopes that these opportunities will enable her to perform back home in Australia.
“Singing Violetta or Mimì in Australia would definitely be a dream come true!”.
Thinking back to her days at Sydney Eisteddfod, Lauren remembers entering a number of classical singing events each year and this provided her with focus and momentum to learn new songs and arias. She remains very good friends with many of her peers from the Eisteddfod and is happy to see so many of them continue to pursue “this fiercely competitive opera career”.
“I was always incredibly nervous before singing and can remember my voice often not coming out how I would have liked it to, but in this (Opera Scholarship) Final I was able to control my nerves and sing very close to the way I knew I could… I’ve still got these recordings and it evokes a lot of different emotions when I listen back to them thinking about all that has happened since then.”
To those thinking of entering Sydney Eisteddfod’s Opera Scholarship, Lauren says, “Go for it! The Sydney Eisteddfod gives wonderful opportunities to not only be heard by industry professionals but also to receive their invaluable feedback. One of the main ways I learn is from watching other people perform so the Eisteddfod is the perfect place to do that.”
The best performance advice she has ever received came from her teacher who said, “All the technical work is done in the practice room so when you walk out on stage, forget all of this and just commit to your intentions".
Lauren says, "Good technique is the foundation but that’s not what an audience wants to see and hear – they want commitment and passion and that’s what I hope to always bring to my performances".