David Butt Philip Masterclass

David Butt Philip is one of the most exciting young helden tenors Britain has to offer. He enjoyed a successful Glyndebourne 2017 summer season singing the role of Laertes in the critically acclaimed brand new production of Brett Dean’s Hamlet, and he is now performing the opera’s title role in the Glyndebourne Tour this Autumn.


David is taking time out of his busy schedule to give this Masterclass to five of St Paul’s Opera's talented singers, some just starting out on their operatic career.

As well as helping them develop new skills, the Masterclass will provide the audience with a fascinating insight into the crafting of an operatic aria, not to mention the chance to hear some wonderful music.

Catching him between performances, ahead of the Masterclass, we asked David how he sees the evening unfolding.

St Paul's Opera

What do you see a Masterclass to be about?

David Butt Philip

Primarily it should be about giving the singer something to take away, however small, that will be of use to them in their work. But it's also about providing a small insight for the audience into the nature of the work we do, and the craft behind a performance.

SPO

Tell us about the first Masterclass you attended: who was the "Master" and where were you in your career? What did you take away from the experience?

DBP

I think the first masterclass in which I participated was with Susan Bullock. I was an undergraduate baritone at the Royal Northern College of Music and only beginning to explore operatic repertoire. I sang Billy Budd but she talked primarily about communicating the text, not singing, which was fascinating and refreshing if somewhat surprising to me at that stage.

SPO

How will you approach teaching each singer at our Masterclass? How can you teach something of value in such a short time?

DBP

The easiest things to address in a short time are issues of interpretation and performance, where just a thought can make a significant difference. Teaching genuine vocal technique is much more complex and time-consuming, which is why most people tend to avoid it in a Masterclass setting.

SPO

You’re a tenor but we have three sopranos, one mezzo and one tenor as candidates. How can you help other voice types?

DBP

Simply the basics of singing, such as intonation and breathing, are common to all voices.

SPO

What do you want each candidate to come away with from the Masterclass?

DBP

Anything at all that's useful to them! Every singer and every voice is different, that's the beauty of what we do. So, what is helpful for one may not be to another. But learning from colleagues has been invaluable to me, so all experiences like this help prepare you for the future.

SPO

We’re hoping for an audience with a broad experience of and an interest in music. What might non-singers take away from it? Might it all be too technical?

DBP

I doubt it. It’s unlikely I'll address many delicate technical issues – that's the role of the singer’s regular coach/teacher. I’m sure music lovers will be interested in the way that we, as artists, prepare a piece or role for performance. It’s a chance to peak behind the curtain.

SPO

Many thanks David. We are all really looking forward to the Masterclass at St Paul’s Church, Clapham, on Monday 13th November.