"Singers are always vocalists first and actors second. I have always understood that, and have never tried to change it. The best results can only be achieved when one works with the music, not against it."
"Opera singers have to deal with so many different demands, all at the same time. Vocal demands, musical demands, physical demands, time pressures, learning pressures, language expectations and so on. They are pushed and pulled in so many directions all at the same time, and I believe very strongly in giving them the dramatic tools to deal with this, by being very straight-forward and disciplined. In this way a firm bedrock of dramatic and physical communication skills is created, giving them the ability to deal with pretty much anything that gets thrown at them.
This approach allows singers to feel comfortable and confident with the drama, and then their own creativity and dramatic imagination can flourish.
I very much work from the outside in. Singers are always vocalists first and actors second. I have always understood that, and have never tried to change it. The best results can only be achieved when one works with the music, not against it. I do use improvisation sometimes, and other techniques, to unblock and provoke an emotional response to the dramatic situation. But I firmly believe that a solid, technical basis in acting skills is what singers really need.
Frequently, singers will work with directors who have no real interest in the exploration and development of character, they will also work with directors who have a much vaguer sense of what it is that they want and give nebulous, loose instructions. I know that my approach enables singers to deal with very different types of directors and create their own sense of drama and theatrical style in order to build strong, clear characters who communicate directly with an audience."
COACHING AREAS COVERED:
Dealing with auditions
Pronunciation of German, French and Italian
Sessions can be arranged as face-to-face appointments as well as via Skype.
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"The stagecraft that William taught me I have used throughout my whole career. He taught me how to project to an audience, how to make clever dramatic choices, use the words, how to stand out and how to die on stage … still one of my favourite things to do!"
ENO, ROH, Opera North, Chatelet, Aix, BBC Proms
William directed Rebecca as Amor in Poppea at RAM and also as the Vixen in The Cunning Little Vixen for Surrey Opera.
PROFESSOR TIMOTHY DEAN:
"William is that rare breed – a polymath, a Renaissance man – therefore ideally equipped to work with young artists. There is no aspect of the art, or the business, of opera that is foreign to him. Whether it be performance, language, stagecraft or style, he teaches effectively and encouragingly, drawing on his own considerable knowledge and personal experience."
Tim Dean is the former Head of Opera at RCS and invited William to direct many productions including Pelleas, Hoffmann, La pietra del Paragone and Die Zauberflöte.
PHOTO: KENNETH DUNDAS
"William's positive approach, knowledge of repertoire, skill with languages, empathy with the music, excellent time management, clear perception of the needs of each individual student, combined with his wicked sense of humour make him an ideal teaching director."
Mary Hill is former director of Opera Studies at RCM and Opera Co-ordinator and Chief Coach at RAM. She has also coached at NOS, Glyndebourne, WNO, Opera Rara and founded Abbey Opera. She has invited William to work on numerous scenes at RAM, Birkbeck and Associated Studios.
"William was always full of energy and knowledge, educational and above all genuinely interested in teaching artists to be as good as possible on stage. William was very much liked by the ensemble, and for me personally, the time at the Drottningholm Theater, due to him, was the period of my greatest dramatic development at Operahögskolan. He showed me what was needed to reach the audience and gave me the tools to do that and to continue to develop as an artist."
Theater an der Wien, Bregenz, Stockholm, Berlin, Oslo, Dresden, named Court Singer by the King of Sweden in 2018.
William directed Daniel as Cecco in Il mondo della luna at Drottningholm Slottstheater.
PHOTO: ERIC ROSSIER
JUNG SOO YUN: "William really taught me how to prepare roles in opera, and patiently explained every moment of the piece and inspired me through his acting skills. At that time I didn’t really know how to act and what opera actually was, so he really helped me to prepare for the professional world."
ROH, ON, Grange Park, Buxton, winner of many prizes, including Caballe, Tauber, etc.
William directed Jung Soo as Hoffmann at the RCS.
"William directed the first opera I ever sang. He gave me a great gift: my first toolkit for stagecraft and the profession. Although I've added a few things to my toolkit through my career, I realise that so much of William's essential advice and guidance applies today."
ROH, Glyndebourne, ENO, Aix, Göttingen, BBC Proms.
William directed Christopher as Alessandro in “Alessandro” at the RCM in 2009.
PHOTO: REBECCA FAY
"William knows Opera’s A to Z and what works on stage and not! He easily conveys to the singer / student what tools are needed to reach the audience in an easy-to-understand, clean and stylish way!
His true knowledge and commitment to the Art of Opera along with his musical knowledge would be a huge asset for every serious singer! William thrives in social contexts and meets people with respect and integrity. He invests a lot of energy so that all his colleagues will be involved and engaged."
Bayreuth, ROH, Staatsoper München, Dresden, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Hamburg. William directed John in scenes at Operakademiet in Copenhagen.
PHOTO: MIKLOS SZABO
MATILDA PAULSSON: "William was the one who taught me the basic theatre skills. This made me feel safe on stage from the very beginning. He truly knows his work and I do have a lot in my career to thank him for!"
Stockholm, Hannover, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Helsinki.
William directed Matilda in scenes at RAM, and as Amastre in Serse at Drottningholm.
PHOTO: EMELIE KROON
IDA RÄNZLÖV: "From the first day of production it was evident that William had his heart and soul in the drama and music. His positive persona transferred into his work which meant he could easily push me to venture outside of my comfort zone, making me grow immensely as an artist."
Glyndebourne, Staatsoper Stuttgart, BYO, Lies Askonas Winner.
William directed Ida as Faramondo in Faramondo at the RCM.
PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER MIDDLETON
GISELA STILLE: "Having worked professionally for quite a few years, both in Copenhagen and internationally, it is clear that the skills and tools that William taught me was a thorough grounding in being able to work in productions with different types of directors and achieve a good result no matter which style of production you are in. William's curiosity and wisdom regarding language and opera development is a great inspiration for the people working with him and makes this work constantly develop. I highly recommend William Relton to anybody wishing to learn about Performance Craft in Opera!"
Royal Danish Opera, WNO, Berlin Philharmonic, Dresden, Bregenz.
William directed Gisela in many scenes at Operakademiet in Copenhagen.
PHOTO: MIKLOS SZABO
MARK TATLOW: "William Relton – meticulously prepared, well-organised in rehearsal, hugely knowledgeable about the repertoire, a great team-builder, an inspirational teacher and colleague... in other words, an opera director par excellence!"
Conductor Mark Tatlow is a former Artistic Director at Drottningholm, where he invited William to direct Serse and Il mondo della luna. He was also Professor of Musical Studies at the University College of Opera, Stockholm.
PHOTO: BO LJUNGBLOM
"This man is a genius. I highly advise a visit."
ROH, WNO, SO, BBC Proms, Winner Recital Song Prize -Cardiff, BBC Young Generation Artist.
William directed Elizabeth as Elmira in Sosarme and Fulvia in Ezio at RCM.
PHOTO: MARCO BORGGREVE