Abigail Kelly

Abigail Kelly PGDip.(Opera) BMus(Hons.)

Abigail Kelly gained a post graduate diploma in operatic studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and completed her undergraduate studies at Birmingham Conservatoire with a first class honours degree. Whilst at the Conservatoire she was awarded a course scholarship, the Robert Gahan prize for achievement by a singer and the BMus prize. Abigail has also won the Leamington Spa Festival's Rae Woodland opera competition, the Black and African Caribbean Young Achiever award for personal success, the educational achievement award from the Council of Black Led Churches, a silver medal from the Worshipful Company of Musicians and was nominated in the music category at the International Women of Excellence Awards 2008.

Abigail's operatic roles include Ninetta (La Gazza Ladra – Rossini) for Midland Opera, Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro – Mozart) for Opera de Bauge, First Lady (The Magic Flute – Mozart) for Opera Minima, Sara (Tobias and the Angel - Jonathan Dove) Bollington Festival Opera), Amour (Pygmalion – Rameau), Helena and Juno (The Fairy Queen – Purcell) and Belinda (Dido and Aeneas – Purcell). With English Touring Opera she has performed as Despina (Cosi fan tutté – Mozart), Fido (Paul Bunyan – Britten), Naiad (Rusalka – Dvořák), Cobweb (A Midsummer Night's Dream - Britten) and Bridesmaid (The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart). Internationally Abigail has performed as a featured artist with Opera South Africa and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and has given recitals in Kingston - Jamaica, Hungary, Montserrat, The Cayman Islands and Germany. Most recently Abigail held a recital of traditional African American spirituals with a string quartet at the 42nd edition of the Summer concerts of organ and chamber music in Władysławowo, Poland.

Abigail's performances in new works include the role of Queen Nanny of the Maroons in Shirley Thompson's Sacred Mountain which premiered at the Tête à Tête Opera Festival 2015; In the summer of 2016 she reprised this role at the Edna Manley School for the Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica. Girl in Stephen Oliver's The Waiter's Revenge with Birmingham Opera Company; performances of Michael Stimpson's The Sharecroppers Son, a song cycle celebrating the life of American athlete Jesse Owens (Ashley Wood Festival); actress/singer soloist in Luca Francesconi's Lips, eyes.....bang with the Thallein Ensemble; the role of Dido Elizabeth Belle in Shirley J Thompson's Spirit of the Middle Passage at Queen Elizabeth Hall with the London Philharmonia; and the roles of Jamaican girl and Mrs Grant in Richard Chew's Mary Seacole The Opera. As a featured artist during the Bollington Festival 2009 Abigail performed the roles of Sara in Jonathan Dove's Tobias and the Angel and the roles of Bess, Clara and Selena in a concert version of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. Closer to home Abigail premiered Bob Chilcott's Christmas cantata And Peace on Earth at Birmingham Symphony Hall with The City of Birmingham Choir. Abigail also commissioned a one woman operatic cabaret entitled Swan Song: Memoirs of a Dudley Diva, a cabaret style operatic monologue charting the rise of fictitious opera star Deirdre Daniels which premiered in conjunction with Opera Minima in 2015.

As a keen anamateur and advocate of children's opera, Abigail has performed in many operas written for younger audiences and often in particular for young people with special educational needs. These performances include Waxwings by Clive and Mark Ives performed at Luxembourg Philharmonie with English Touring Opera (ETO); the roles of Sophia and Yelena in the award winning children's opera Laika the Space Dog by Russel Hepplewhite with ETO as a UK schools tour and also at the Armel Opera Festival in Hungary and at L'Opera Grand in Avignon; children's operas and devised pieces by Rachael Leech including Spin (Luxembourg Philharmonie) In the Belly of the Horse (Tricycle Theatre, London and UK schools tour) and Mad Spirits (The Arts Depot, London) and many other devised children's opera's including a UK school tour and Luxembourg Philharmonie performances of Red Blue Green and Midnight Moon for ETO.

Abigail has had a close relationship with the Diocese of Birmingham and has sung for Bishop John Sentamu on a number of occasions including the confirmation service of his election as Archbishop of York at St Mary- Le- Bow church in London and at the Walk of Witness service commemorating the 200th Abolition of the Slave Trade in London's Kennington Park. A proud Birmingham woman, Abigail has also performed at Birmingham's first commemoration of Emancipation day and at the 2012 Birmingham Symphony Hall celebrations of Jamaica's 50th anniversary of independence.

Abigail is grateful to the Peter Moores Foundation which gave her additional financial assistance to further her operatic training and also to English Touring Opera and Chris Ball for a bursary to continue her professional development.

In June 2014 Abigail performed at the House of Commons alongside Dr Shirley Thompson at a 'Birmingham Day' event attended by MPs and other civic and business leaders including David Urquhart - The Bishop of Birmingham and Sir Peter Bazalgette - Chairman of Arts Council. 

Abigail features in the Michael Stimpson CD entitled 'Jesse Owens opera' which was officially launched at Leighton House Museum, London on 30th September 2016. It also includes Johnny Herford (baritone), Megumi Fujita (piano), Philharmonia Orchestra with Stuart Stratford (Conductor).

Abigail returned to the House of Commons on 5th October 2016 to perform at the launch of the human rights activist Maxie Hayles autobigraphy entitled 'Taking It To The Max' to a select audience from across the UK.



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