Senior Opera Consultant | Coach
From Birmingham, Mary studied piano, organ and viola, gained both ARCM and LRAM piano diplomas and played with the CBSO before going to Oxford University. A founder member of Schola Cantorum there, she also sang with the Elizabethan Singers, Schutz and Monteverdi Choirs in London and studied at the London Opera Centre, where she became a member of staff. As an accompanist she gave concerts in all the major London venues, played for the BBC and toured with Intimate Opera.
She founded her own company, Abbey Opera, as an ILEA education class. Over a period of 40 years it acquired its own orchestra under Antony Shelley, and became a major force for young professional and amateur singers wishing to showcase their work. It staged a wide variety of known and lesser-known repertoire in and around London and for the Camden and Edinburgh festivals. It visited Rennes in France, and gave major concerts at St. John’s Smith Square, the Bloomsbury Theatre, British Museum, and collaborated three times in the Barbican with Chelsea Opera. It gave British premiers of operas by Samuel Barber, Virgil Thomson and Robert Ward, and also Pfitzner’s “Palestrina.” Many performances were broadcast on Radio London, and in its final ten years Abbey Opera became an accredited Diploma Course for the University of London.
Mary has also worked as a coach for Glyndebourne , Welsh National Opera, Kent Opera, Opera Rara, Northern Ireland Opera Trust, the Royal Opera (Stockholm), and Virginia Opera (USA). She was Director of Opera Studies at the Royal Academy of Music when the Britten Theatre was opened, coached regularly for the National Opera Studio, and ran the postgraduate opera courses at Trinity College of Music. She has recently retired after 27 years at the Royal Academy of Music as Opera Co-ordinator and Chief Coach, and has been awarded an Hon.ARAM for outstanding contribution to the opera department.