Sarah Gabriel has plenty to sing about at Ealing Music Festival

Ahead of her appearances in the Music and Film Valentine Festival, the Surrey born soprano talks to Kaye Holland about entertaining, Ealing and working with Stanley Kubrick’s nephew

Soprano Sarah Gabriel’s CV boosts a healthy balance of critically acclaimed operatic, 20th century music and musical theatre performances - not bad for a Surrey girl who didn’t start singing seriously until her twenties.

Indeed it wasn’t until after graduation (as a side project Sarah acquired an English degree from Cambridge) that she went off- on a scholarship - to research and perform neglected baroque music in Bologna and Venice. Subsequently Sarah made her European debut in 2010 in My Fair Lady, at a theatre in Paris, before sending the critics into raptures with her US debut - which saw Sarah sing the role of Lucy in Britten's The Beggar's Opera.

Yet while she possesses a voice that can stop traffic, Sarah has also proved herself as an actress:  French newspaper,  Le Monde, proclaimed her to be “as fine an actress as she is a singer.”

“When you're a singer, it should be both anyway” laughs the extremely likeable (Sarah responds to every question with labrador like enthusiasm) Londoner. She continues: “I do love acting and I certainly want to do more, but I couldn't live without singing”.

Singing is today’s big discussion point for this unstoppable verbal force - you don’t need to ask Sarah a question as such, merely mention a topic and she is off, barely pausing to draw breath!

Sarah will be entertaining Ealing not once but twice, during the imminent Music and Film Valentine Festival. “It’s such a murky time of year so I can't think of a better time than February, to put something like this on,” she says. “And film and music are two of my favourite things, so I'm delighted to be part of the festival.”

First up on February 13th, Sarah will be performing songs from My Fair Lady with the English Chamber Orchestra. Then, on the 15th, she will team up with baritone, Philip Smith, and Stanley Kubrick’s nephew, music animateur Dominic Harlan, for Solitary Hotel.

“Don't expect anything,” says Sarah of the show. “Turn up with a completely open heart and mind! But don't worry - there will be no forced participation or ritual humiliation. At least, not for the audience.”

Sarah describes working with Dominic “as a dream. He is one of the most wonderful musicians I know. He doesn't waste a note, treats each song with respect, understands audiences and every time I work with him, I remember why I do this job.”

It’s a job she’s throughly enjoying and is relishing returning to Ealing having “taught singing at the LCM Junior College for a little while. Every Saturday morning I’d walk past the famous Ealing Film Studios and feel a little frisson of excitement.”

Catch Sarah Gabriel at the Ealing Music and Film (Valentine) Festival from 12-16 February. To book tickets visit: www.ealingmusicandfilmfestival.org

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