Isobel Buchanan Will Return To The Stage In Scotland On June 20
Soprano Isobel Buchanan with husband and actor Jonathan Hyde. (Photo: Dan Wooller)
Soprano Isobel Buchanan is wagging a finger at me intently from across the kitchen table. 'I don't care how much anyone tells you about technique,' she says. 'Singing is all about the mind. The minute your confidence goes, everything else starts to fall apart too.' Buchanan has experienced it both ways. Hers was a stratospheric early career: in the 1970s she was Scotland's golden operatic talent, swept off to Australia by no less a figure than Joan Sutherland and catapulted into star roles and a staggeringly young international career. But an undiagnosed physical conduction left her confidence dented and she withdrew from the limelight. Now 61, she has recently returned to the stage thanks to proper medical care and recital formats in which she feels comfortable again. When she sings at the St Magnus Festival in Orkney this summer, it will be her first appearance in Scotland for decades. Buchanan was always a natural singer. Raised in Cumbernauld in a house 'where nobody watched the telly; people came round for a sing-song,' she says she used to 'fall out of bed singing.''Don't try this at home, kids,' she laughs, 'but I didn't even have to warm up. I would blast through things like Rejoice greatly' - a high, sprightly solo from Handel's Messiah, not your average warm-up of careful long notes and scales. At 17 she was offered a scholarship to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; barely three years later, she was spotted by Sutherland and the director Richard Bonynge, and invited to join their Opera Australia ensemble in Sydney. 'I was totally clueless,' Buchanan says, shaking her head at the memory. But the atmosphere in Australia was warm and supportive, like a family.' She was graced with the kind of light, instinctive voice that seemed to be able to handle anything: she was a 'happy-go-lucky' performer, she says, and recalls a typical request from Bonynge to learn the role of the Countess in Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro in a week. 'Really I should have been singing Susannah first,' she laughs, referring to the opera's younger, airier female lead. 'But back then I just gave everything a go. People were saying, 'Gawd, this girl can sing anything'. Youth is a wonderful thing. I mean, I sang Strauss's Four Last Songs at the age of 19!'" [Source] Read the rest of the interview by clicking here. Isobel Buchanan and Jonathan Hyde are at Stromness Town Hall on June 20, part of the St Magnus Festival: www.stmagnusfestival.com. Be sure to see a video of her singing "Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante," from Bizet's Carmen, in 1978 under conductor Carlos Kleiber.