2011 Susan Chilcott Scholar
Awarded funding for further studies/career development
‘Like the course of true love, the progress of a Wagner singer is not always smooth! It takes a huge amount of investment from the singer in terms of time and study. I believe Magdalen Ashman has the dedication and talent to succeed in this repertoire.’ Susan Bullock
Magdalen Ashman (mezzo –soprano) was born in London, gained a degree in Italian Studies from the University of Reading and is a postgraduate of Trinity College of Music, London. She went on to further studies at The Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, where she was awarded the prestigious Annie Ridyard Scholarship for Mezzo-sopranos.
A versatile singer, equally at home with both the more dramatic as well as comic repertoire, Magdalen’s roles include; Carmen for Blackheath Halls Opera, Mrs Noye (Noye’s Fludde) for The Ealing Autumn Festival, Marcellina (Le Nozze di Figaro) for Winslow Hall Opera, Margaretha (Genoveva) for UCL Opera, the cover of Sara in Opera Holland Park’s production of ‘Roberto Devereux’ as well as Dido (Dido and Aeneas), Florence (Albert Herring), Nancy (Martha) and The Widow (The Widow of Ephesus) for Opéra de Baugé in France. She created the role of The Moon for the premiere of the children’s opera ‘Galileo!’ for The Ealing Autumn Festival and the role of the Minister of Culture for the premiere of Dominique Le Gendre’s ‘Burial at Thebes’ at Shakespeare’s Globe, London. In 2014, with Opéra de Baugé, she made her debut as Amneris in ‘Aida’.
Her recording and concert work include; Alice (Robin Hood) for Naxos, Geisha (The Geisha) for Hyperion, a recital at Ludlow Assembly Rooms, ‘Sea Pictures’ at Ealing Abbey, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations at the Royal Concert Hall Nottingham with the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Verdi ‘Requiem’ at Lincoln Cathedral and a recital in 2015 with David Syrus at St John’s Smith Square, London.
In 2009 Magdalen took her first step into the repertoire of Richard Wagner performing the role of Fricka in Die Walküre with the Edinburgh Opera Players Orchestra and winning a Goodall Scholarship from The Wagner Society shortly after. Her performance of the role impressed the Susan Chilcott Foundation panel and she was awarded a full Chilcott Scholarship in 2011. She went on to cover Schwertleite and Grimgerde in Die Walküre for Opera North’s critically acclaimed Ring Cycle in 2012 and appeared as Siegrune (Die Walküre) in the 2013 Wagner 200 Celebrations at the Royal Festival Hall with the Philharmonia Orchestra, under Sir Andrew Davis, which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. In 2014 she received an inaugural Carol Rees Award from the Mastersingers, supporting a week of study with Dame Gwyneth Jones which culminated in a performance of Waltraute’s Narration from Götterdämmerung at the annual Wagner Society Bayreuth Bursary Competition. More recently, she covered the role of Fricka and sang the role of Grimgerde in Saffron Opera’s critically acclaimed concert performance of Die Walküre at the award winning Saffron Hall.
Magdalen is fortunate to have met Susan Chilcott in 2001 during a production of Otello as a member of The Glyndebourne Festival Chorus. Susan’s warmth, generosity and encouragement backstage as well as her stunning artistry and heart-rending performance as Desdemona, were inspiring. She is very honoured to be part of Susan’s legacy and grateful for the support provided for her development by the Susan Chilcott Foundation.