A lyric coloratura soprano with a flair for contemporary music, a range of over three octaves and a taste for a challenge, Joanne Roughton-Arnold emigrated from New Zealand to the UK to pursue a career as a violinist. She began her vocal studies with Esther Salaman and Paul Hamburger while a postgraduate violinist at Trinity College of Music, London, before going on to become a prize-winning vocal student at Birmingham Conservatoire. She now studies with renowned operatic soprano Nelly Miricioiu and international vocal coach David Harper.
She is passionate about showcasing New Zealand music to a wider audience. Having first encountered Dame Gillian Whitehead’s vocal music during her postgraduate studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, she is thrilled to have been able to commission Gillian Whitehead and Fleur Adcock to write Iris Dreaming, a one-woman chamber opera based on the life of celebrated NZ writer and feminist, Iris Wilkinson. She performed and produced the world première as part of the 2016 Grimeborn Festival at London’s Arcola Theatre, with Sara Brodie directing and Jonathan Hargreaves conducting the Octandre Ensemble. She is very grateful to Creative New Zealand for generously supporting this commission and to Arts Council England, the NZ Society, the NZ Studies Network and the Richard Thomas Foundation for supporting the London performances. In February 2017 she gave the New Zealand première of Iris Dreaming in partnership with NZTrio in a special adaptation for Nelson’s prestigious Adam Chamber Music Festival. She is looking forward to further collaboration with NZTrio to bring Iris Dreaming to audiences across NZ and the UK.
Other recent performances include her first appearance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in the virtuosic role of Semele in a research and development workshop on Roberto David Rusconi’s new opera, Dionysos. She gave the world première of Lisa Illean’s Artificial Night with the Octandre Ensemble and has made concert appearances at HM Treasury (Churchill Room) and Handel House Museum, London. In February 2017 she participated in Malcolm Martineau’s annual residential masterclass at Crear, Scotland.
Her operatic credits include Annina in La Traviata with the Chelsea Opera Group and Nelly Miricioiu (Queen Elizabeth Hall), La Zia in Madama Butterfly with Opera Holland Park (Christine Collins Young Artist), Methodist Preacher in A Pastoral Messiah (Unexpected Opera), Sarah Whitehead in Malcolm Williamson’s English Eccentrics under Lionel Friend, Fiordiligi Così fan tutte (Birmingham Conservatoire), Eurydice Orpheus in the Underworld (Morley Opera), Norina Don Pasquale (Morley Opera), Gilda Rigoletto (Porthcawl Grand Pavillion), Marguerite Faust (Theatr Elli, Llanelli), Morgana Alcina (Theatr Elli, Llanelli).