Muddy Meets: Soprano Laura Wright
The rugby-loving opera A-lister tells all about singing for the crowds, royal encounters and post-lockdown footwear dilemmas.
Opera is a pretty unusual career – how did you get into it?
I come from a very musical family but we’re also very sporty. I have three older brothers who all play rugby – I was the rugby ball! – and they’re all musical too. I’m pretty competitive, so playing sport was a great outlet. Music was my creative release. My school singing and music teachers encouraged me to enter the Chorister of the Year competition which turned out to be my big break.
You were in an all-girl classical crossover group at just 16. Was it harmonious – or a teenage nightmare?
All Angels was a great start to my career. Given our age it could have been a disaster but fortunately, we all got on incredibly well.
You’ve performed for the Royals, including the Queen – how was that?!
There’s something about classical music that brings a real sense of occasion. Through sport, I started performing patriotic pieces. That led to the single Stronger as One, the Queen’s Jubilee song for the Commonwealth, performed in front of the Royal Family at Westminster Abbey. I actually got to meet the Queen. Somehow, I hadn’t expected that. I felt a bit like Martine McCutcheon in Love Actually. I was determined to be calm like a swan – but I probably didn’t seem like that!
Have you met any other Royals?
Through my work with the military and veterans I’ve met The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I’ve also met Harry through the Invictus Games and Meghan briefly too, in Toronto. It was exciting to meet them and a fantastic achievement to create such an amazing and successful concept. The events are all about the veterans and celebrating their incredible energy and achievements, which are both inspiring and humbling. It was a real honour to be involved.
Any other standout moments in your career?
Being passionate about sport and music I love being the England Rugby team official anthem singer. Rousing songs like Jerusalem became a real calling card for the sport. Performing it really helps build up that anticipation before the game. There’s a lot of pressure to get it right but I really relish that challenge. It’s not about you as a singer but rather the performance itself and its ability to unite the audience. Depending on who we’re playing, the atmosphere is either incredibly joyful – or, if we’re playing Wales, incredibly scary…
Are you a big fan of women’s rugby?
I’ve love performing at the England Women’s events and meeting the players who have some great stories to tell. I find it so sad when three-quarters of the crowd leave for the women’s game. Statistically they have an amazing performance record – better than the men – and work in other careers too! I’ve performed at lots of other sporting events too and absolutely loved doing all of them. I can’t wait for the return of the crowds.
How has the past year been for you?
It’s been very different, of course. My little girl Ottilie (1) keeps me busy, we’re moving home and I’ve still been performing. I’ve also been doing virtual workshops, started in the first lockdown. It dawned on me that elderly people would miss out on much-needed social contact.
I got in touch with charities including the Stroke Association, who I’ve worked with previously, and we set up video calls with people they help. I’d have a chat with them, find out what music they like and sing them a song. It was literally that simple.
Have you carried on with the virtual singalongs?
That first project evolved into Sing Happy workshops which I do each week, many with the Soldier Arts Academy. Some of the veterans I work with have PTSD, others have long COVID and the singing techniques really help with their breathing. The experience has been rewarding but also quite emotional.
You’re performing at Park Proms in Hampshire this Summer. What are you most looking forward to?
I’m so excited! Like so many other singer and musicians I can’t wait to perform live and give people the experience they’ve missed so much. Having a live orchestra on stage, you can’t beat it. There’s a something really uplifting about performing songs that unite people. I think we need that at the moment.
Sartorial choices are always of interest here at Muddy, so we need to know – stilettos or slippers?
Slippers. I’m not sure my feet will fit in a pair of stilettos anymore! I love to dress up for a performance but I’ve always been a tomboy, that’s certainly not what I wear day-to-day.