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Ambitious opera singer returns to her roots

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Stage star: : Kerri-lynne Dietz plays a stewardess in Jonathan Dove’s opera Flight

Kerri-lynne Dietz left Bermuda to make her way as an opera singer nearly ten years ago.

She was still a teenager when she auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music in London, England.

Ask today how she got there and she’ll undoubtedly mention Marjorie Pettit.

“[She] was my first teacher. She encouraged me to train classically and said that it would give me a good foundation in music. I trusted her and I suppose my voice fits well in this genre. I love the challenge. I love the poetry. Classical music really captured me.”

The 29-year-old is now on the Island for a concert at St Paul’s Church in Paget on Saturday. She last performed here two years ago, for Mrs Pettit’s final Heritage Concert.

“I’ve put together so meticulously the project for Bermuda,” she said. “I really wanted to share music that I thought people would enjoy and find interesting and engaging.”

Ms Dietz joined United World College in New Mexico after she graduated from Mount Saint Agnes.

A six-week programme at Boston University Tanglewood Institute in 2003 proved a real awakening for her. “I hadn’t really experienced a symphony orchestra,” she said. “That was my first time hearing a professional opera singer live. It was [American opera singer] Renee Fleming and I got a picture with her after the concert. Another evening I remember sitting on the lawn, picnic-style, and the orchestra was playing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and I knew music was what I had to do. I didn’t really know what I was getting into!”

Three years later she was studying at the Royal Academy of Music. Ms Dietz got a bachelor’s degree in music from the legendary institution. She began working towards her master’s but gave that up to concentrate more on opera.

“I applied to the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and did the two-year opera programme from 2012-2014,” she said. “I received a master’s degree in opera performance. It was really great training. There’s nothing like being on stage and getting first-hand experience. Until about two years ago I had reached a good level, but I wanted to challenge myself to be the best I possibly could. I met Raymond Connell, who teaches privately in London, and for the last year I’ve been studying [with him], working on technique. He has helped me to reach a higher standard. I’m excited to see where it goes from here.”

She’s now getting ready to audition for apprenticeship programmes in opera companies. Paris, Zurich, Strasbourg, Graz and Frankfurt are all possible new homes. Or she could return to London.

“The programme in London is with the National Opera Studio. It has ties with all the major houses in the UK and many trainees often go to work with these companies or on to their Young Artists’ Programmes like the Jette Parker Progamme at the Royal Opera House or the Harewood Artists’ Programme with English National Opera.

“I’d really love to be a professional soloist travelling around singing at opera houses and I think I have a good shot of achieving that [but] it’s crucial to note there are lots of ways to go about doing something. If a place on a YAP doesn’t materialise, there are different routes I could take. I could audition for agents. It’s a really exciting and slightly scary time of transition.”

Wherever she next ends up, there’s bound to be a lot of hard work involved, Ms Dietz said.

“I’m going to keep going and see just how far I can go and what I can achieve. This training takes huge discipline and perseverance. You come up constantly against challenges that force you to grow, not only to strengthen your voice but your mind and how you cope with things.

“I’m still young in terms of opera. What matters is that you reach a stage where you’re able to use your technique consistently and communicate whatever’s required well.

“The great thing about opera is that I can progress as I age from trouser roles, where I play young men, to more mature women. Given my voice type, I can probably still sing a few trouser roles and older women well into my 60s. That is provided I treat my instrument well and not sing repertoire that is too heavy. It is hard work and seems all-consuming, so much so that I find myself surprised and hugely pleased when people enjoy what I’ve done.”

• Tickets, $35 general admission; $15 students, are available on the door and at the Bermuda Bookstore. The concert starts at 8pm.

• For more information visit www.kerri-lynnedietz.com.

Exciting future: Opera singer Kerri-lynne Dietz is performing at St Paul’s Church in Paget on Saturday
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