Marta Fontanals-Simmons

Marta Fontaneles-Simmons sings the roles of Narrator, Mary and the lady in the market in Omega and Alpha. Looking forward to the 2022/23 season, Fontanals-Simmons performs Jack The Wreckers Ethel Smyth with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati; recitals with Iain Burnside at Wigmore Hall and the Lammermuir Festival…

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Her Story

Praised for her “warm mezzo” (The Telegraph) and “velvet-voice” (Daily Telegraph), British-Spanish mezzo soprano Marta Fontanals-Simmons recently made critically acclaimed house and role debuts at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Siébel in David McVicar’s production of Faustand creating the role of Hel in the world premiere of Gavin Higgins’ The Monstrous Childat the ROH Linbury Theatre. 

Looking forward to the 2022/23 season, Fontanals-Simmons performs Jack The Wreckers Ethel Smyth with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati; recitals with Iain Burnside at Wigmore Hall and the Lammermuir Festival; Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde at the Roman River Festival and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with the Worcester Festival Choral Society. Marta also reprises her role in Gavin Higgins’ The Faerie Bride with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales following a very well received world premiere at Aldeburgh Festival in 2022.

In the 2021/22 season, Fontanals-Simmons joined the Ensemble at Grand Théâtre de Genève, performing Matriosha in a new Calixto Bieito production of Prokofiev’s War and Peace and Erste Magd in Elektra by Strauss. She also returned to Glyndebourne Festival to perform Jack in a much-anticipated production of Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers.

On the recital platform, she performed at Wigmore Hall; Oxford Lieder; Blackheath Halls; Zeist Lieder Festival; Cowbridge Festival; and Aldeburgh Festival, premiering a new cantata for mezzo-soprano, baritone and chamber orchestra The Faerie Bride by writing duo, Gavin Higgins and Francesca Simon. On the concert platform, she performed Beethoven Mass in C with the Oxford Philharmonic and Stanford’s Requiem with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Recent operatic highlights include her house and role debut at English National Opera as Eurydice Woman in Daniel Kramer’s iconic production of Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus;her house debut as Jennie Hildebrand in Weill’s Street Scene for Opéra de Monte-Carlo; Amando Le Grand Macabre with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester; Zweite Dame Die Zauberflöte for Glyndebourne Festival; Jennie Hildebrand Street Scene at the Teatro Real; Cherubino Le nozze di Figaro for Garsington Opera and at the Théâtre Champs Elysées; the title role in La Cenerentola for Diva Opera; and Kate Pinkerton Madama Butterfly for the Glyndebourne Tour and Grange Park Opera. On the concert platform, Fontanals-Simmons has emerged as a “strong artistic personality and an unflinchingly direct communicator”and as an interpreter of a broad range of repertoire.

Career highlights include her debut album with long-time collaborator Lana Bode ‘I and Silence; Women’s Voices in American Song’ for which she received 5 star reviews; the European premiere of Alasdair Nicolson Shadows on the Wall at Barbican Hall and Berlioz’s La Captive both with the BBC Symphony Orchestra; Verdi’s Requiem with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall; Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music with Sakari Oramo at the Last Night of the Proms; Mendelssohn Elijah with CBSO at Birmingham Symphony Hall; L’Enfant et les Sortilèges with Stéphane Denève and the Radio Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart; a tour of Elgar’s The Sea Pictures with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra;Bach Mass in B Minor with Ryan Wigglesworth at the St Endellion Festival; Handel’s Messiah with Lawrence Cummings at the London Handel Festival;Stravinsky’s Les Noces at Queen Elizabeth Hall; and Mozart’s Requiem with Gerald Wirth at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna.

In recital, Fontanals-Simmons performs with artists including Roger Vignoles, Simon Lepper, Bengt Forsberg and Iain Burnside, and is an associate member of the Quantum Ensemble at the Auditorio de Tenerife. She was awarded the Prix de Lied at Le Concours international de chant-piano Nadia et Lili Boulangerin Paris and was a finalist in the 2014 Kathleen Ferrier Award at Wigmore Hall, London. Fontanals-Simmonsis a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where she was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal and was a Jerwood Artist at Glyndebourne for the 2015/16 season.

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Q and A’s with Marta

• What should we tell our audience about you?

I’m half Spanish – half English, I have a two year old son called Monty and a Mini Schnauzer dog called Lenny, I grew up in Somerset and my husband and I have recently moved back to the area.

• What first got you into music?

My family loves music and encouraged me to take piano and violin lessons from an early age. Then I was lucky to attend schools that had an excellent provision for music and performance where my interest and talent was further nurtured.

• Who inspired you to make music?

My school and university music teachers were encouraging and gave me a great foundation, I was involved in Uni opera productions which sparked my passion for being on stage. After I graduated, I met my singing teacher Marilyn Rees who inspired me to apply for music college which along with some exciting performing opportunities at both Welsh National Youth Opera and British Youth Opera, is what led me to becoming a professional singer.

• How would you describe the music that you perform?

There are three areas of Classical Singing that I work in. I perform Song Recitals with pianists, ensembles and orchestras in Concert Halls and on Radio; Operas in theatres around the world and Oratorio with choral societies such as Omega and Alpha. I sing repertoire in multiple languages in a broad range of styles, from Classical to Contemporary, and I’m an advocate of female composers and those whose work is underrepresented.

• Who would you most like to collaborate with?

Composer Gavin Higgins and librettist Francesca Simon. They are dear friends and although we’ve collaborated twice before (an opera ‘The Monstrous Child’ and Cantata for Orchestra, Mezzo and Baritone ‘The Faerie Bride’) I enjoy every moment of the creative process and our plans for the next project are really exciting! I would also love to act in a Play by Enda Walsh on the West End or be in a Jason Robert Brown Musical on Broadway!!

• Where have you performed?

Major highlights have been performing at The Royal Opera House London, Teatro Real Madrid, Grand Theatre de Geneve, Opera de Monte Carlo, English National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Hamburg Elbphilhamonie, Berlin Philharmonie, Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Liederhalle Stuttgart, Wigmore Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall and the Banff Centre for Arts.

• Where was your most memorable performance?

Kurt Weill’s Street Scene at Opèra de Monte Carlo. Not only was it a stellar cast, but everyone was so lovely. The performance means a lot to me as my whole family were on stage together; my dog Lenny was cast as ‘Queenie the dog’ in the show and so my husband was his ‘handler’ from the sides, while I was on stage, pregnant with our son. It was a very special time!

• What is your favourite song to perform?

Usually, it is the thing I’m singing at the time as I always get very invested in my work.

Omega and Alpha

• What is one message you would give to your fans about Omega and Alpha?

It’s a great new re-telling of the Easter Passion story. The communication is direct and impactful, you will leave humming the tunes and feel better connected to the story by the end of the piece.

• How would you describe Omega and Alpha to someone you have just met?

Full of character, theatricality, some great tunes and a brilliant chorus.

• Omega and Alpha – you’re our Star Mezzo, how would describe your role?

I have two roles, I am Narrator for the majority of the first part, and then Mary Magdalen as I begin to tell the story from a much more personal perspective. Martin has given me gorgeous melodies to sing and I also have some great moments with Jonathan and John.

• Have you performed with Omega and Alpha Performers before?

Yes I was lucky enough to have performed the premiere in 2013 at Wells Cathedral.