Festival preview - why Lesley loves Harrogate

Lesley Garrett.
Lesley Garrett.

Interview with Lesley Garrett

In honour of the centenary of Emily Davison’s death, the militant suffragette who died in June 1913 after falling under the King’s horse, Harrogate International Festivals is to deliver a stellar line-up of female talent in July, starting with the UK’s favourite soprano, Lesley Garrett CBE.

From under the hooves of a racehorse to operatic heights, women have come a long way in the last century.

It’s fitting, to celebrate the life of a woman whose sacrifice laid the pathway for women to vote, be educated and become all they could be, that Lesley Garrett is delivering the Opening Gala, delivering her trademark operatic heights.

It will be an extra special performance given the fact she has just been appointed the Festival’s vice president, and it’s a role she is genuinely delighted by, not least because the Festival launched her own career.

“What is so wonderful about the Festival is its long-standing tradition of delivering such high standards in international music, but also its commitment to offering a platform to new young musicians and performers. I was one of them,” Lesley said.

“The first time I ever performed at the Festival, I was a student. I gave my first ever recital at The Old Swan Hotel, and it was such a fantastic opportunity for me. So to be asked to come back and not only perform, but be vice president, really is a true honour.”

Lesley brings an inspirational programme with her signature style and creativity.

This intimate concert explores the rich tapestry of opera’s Forsaken Women, bringing to life the great moments of lost love from Purcell, Beethoven and Verdi to Noel Coward and Benjamin Britten.

Garrett takes us on this journey of arias from the baroque period through to the Romantics and the modern day, revealing women of character, sensitivity and depth.

“I have a very special connection to Harrogate, and of course to Yorkshire, which is where I go to breathe my heritage and to see my family; it will always be a home to me, so it’s a huge honour to have this new role in a leading arts festival in my home county.,” she said.

“It’s also a genuine delight to perform in a town where the people are so supportive of a festival that offers such high standards, with performances that are second to none.

“Music can have such emotional resonance, it matters to us all, and I hope to really connect with the audience with this intimate live experience.

“My career blossomed from my first appearance, so it really is a sense of coming home, and returning full circle, I’m thrilled to be back.”

Opening Gala: Lesley Garrett, Thursday, July 4, Royal Hall, 8pm, Box Office: 01423 562303.