Songs from Lockdown: Anna Simmons

Anna performs with Felicity Tomkins

Dame Malvina Major Foundation Studio Artist Anna Simmons reports in from Tauranga with her lockdown tips and an update on how she’s been using the downtime.

Tell us about where you are in lockdown. Where did you come from to be there? Who are you with?

I am riding out Levels 3-4 in Tauranga. My husband and I had been house sitting in Auckland, but of course with the current global situation people were cancelling their holidays left, right and centre! We were glad and grateful to return to my hometown to stay with family. 

What are you doing with this time in one place?

This time has given me opportunity for introspection and stillness, two things we don’t prioritise in our normally fast-paced world. I have also been honing my translating skills by working my way through several operas, and working on nitty gritty vocal technique, both of which take a fair amount of time. Luckily I have some spare at the moment! 

How did the song with Somi Kim come about, and why did you pick this particular song?

I was going to be making my debut with NZ Opera as Barbarina in their upcoming production of The Marriage of Figaro, which has sadly been postponed. As I no longer have a chance to perform the role on a stage this year, we thought it would be nice to share her Act 4 aria online instead.

Is there something you do to stay focused and relaxed that may be useful for others at a time like this?
I am a huge yoga advocate. It is something I practice every day, and it has made such a significant difference to both my mental and physical awareness. Every opportunity we have for introspection and stillness can elicit growth; although that concept may be a little confronting, it can be as simple as sitting and embracing the stillness that comes with some slow, deep breaths. 

What’s been the highlight of being in the DMMF Studio Artist programme so far?
Being on the receiving end of so much support and so many educational resources from NZ Opera. The whole team is behind us and wants to help us explore the many facets of being an artist, and as a result of their connections we have worked with some brilliant mentors within and outside of the company. 

Is there a particular performance you saw, or an experience you remember that made you want to be an opera singer?
Can I answer that every time I hear a fantastic singer it just makes me want to sing too?! Going back, I had always been involved in choirs and school productions, but listening to Cecilia Bartoli singing Italian art songs and Sumi Jo singing the Bell Song from Lakmé during my latter high school years really opened my eyes to what the human voice was capable of. And of course Kiri Te Kanawa’s Countess in Le nozze di Figaro.  It grew and grew from there. 

Read about the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Studio Artists.