Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Opera singer wants to get back to her roots

Published:Friday | August 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Laura Redpath, Senior Gleaner Writer

THE SMOOTH yet rich voice of Abigail Kelly may one day reach Jamaica's shores again if the operatic performer gets her wish.

Kelly, a woman of Jamaican parentage, lives in England, and said she would love to formally tour Jamaica one day in the future. She once performed classical, musical theatre and Jamaican folk song pieces at the Jamaica Defence Force museum in 2008. Kelly visits the island of her roots regularly to be with family members who live in Jamaica.

"I would love to tour in Jamaica at some stage in the future. My only issue with performing in Jamaica is it is so hot. I felt as if I would melt on stage at any moment the last time I performed there. I'm sure I could get used to the heat, though," she said.


Kelly completed her Bachelor of Music studies at Birmingham Conservatoire in Birmingham, England, with first-class honours. From there, she went on to the Royal Scottish Academy in Glasgow, Scotland, and earned her postgraduate diploma in operatic studies. She has since been nominated for an International Women of Excellence award in 2008.

She said her most memorable school experiences took place at the Birmingham Conservatoire, where she enjoyed performing in the college's musical theatre productions with her colleagues.

"I think my favourite production that we worked on was Jekyll and Hyde by Frank Wildhorn. We had so much fun during rehearsals that the four performances we had were so very energetic and full of spark," she said. "It is still to this day one of my favourite stage experiences."

Best performances

The soprano, who has made the leap from rejections to national tours across the United Kingdom, said the best operatic performances don't necessarily happen in front of a sold-out audience in an opera house.

"I think that my most enjoyable operatic performance so far was a concert of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. I performed in a huge marquee in a village called Bollington in the northeast of England.

"The performance was great, and even though it was very cold and rainy outside, it was a very warm and vibrant atmosphere inside," she said.

Operatic roles of Kelly's include Armour in Rameau's Pygmalion, an 18th-century love story consisting of a single, self-contained act in opera ballet form; Helena and Juno in Purcell's The Fairy Queen, a play whose text was adapted from William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream; and Belinda in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, the composer's first all-sung opera with text adapted from Nahum Tate, an Irish poet who went on to become England's poet Laureate in the late 1600s.

"I was still unsure during my four-year vocal degree course as to which genre of music I should aim towards," Kelly said of specialising in opera. "I loved the challenge of performing opera and I have been so inspired to continue on the classical path that I just had to give it a go."