Diary of One Who Persevered

So here I go – back to work. To singing and performing, that is. August saw season two of Wild Plum Arts: Made At the Red House artist’s residencies. We did – we made that happen. We definitely persevered.

Dinner in the Benjamin BritTENT – socially distanced post supper discussions

And tomorrow morning, bright and early, I’m driving up to Glasgow. Scottish Opera in partnership with the Lammermuir Festival will present Janáček’s The Diary of One who Disappeared. Bless Nicky Spence who is now recovering from an emergency appendectomy, and kudos to Ed Lyon who is jumping in. I’m going to Zefka my way back into being a singer again, on stage, with colleagues, with full slap and wig, and a LIVE BAND with a person waving a stick at me. This is going to be a wild ride. We will film it with no audience in the theatre – but it will go out on Sunday, 20 September at 730pm. Please do click and watch. We miss you.

Saturday in Plagueville


Let’s call this…”life under discussion”

We all have time on our hands. And yes, the time should be an opportunity for updating things like this website. Goodness knows, it needs it. Or does it? Is it really what is important at this very moment? We are all confronting life on different terms, and in ways we’ve not encountered before. Slowly, slowly, I was told by a mentor. We prioritise and move forward. Yet with care and discernment. When we come out the other side of this pandemic, we will certainly create our lives differently.

The state I am living in at the moment is brilliantly summed up by Ben Dawson (a lovely whack-a-doodle pianist) who posted this over on twitter. Self-employment in a nutshell.

Schrödinger’s Career – where the gigs you have in your diary beyond mid-May both are and are not happening.

So here’s what I want to share with you.
Wiltshire (that’s the county I live in) had some glorious weeks before Easter, so Mr G (that’s my husband Christopher Gillett for the newbies reading here) and I went out and foraged bundles of wild garlic to made salads and pesto, and every permutation you can think of. Then we made litres of homemade chicken stock, so that meant clearing out the freezer! This presented interesting choices. Chop therapy kicked in and I grabbed a few frozen items and made Elderflower and Gooseberry Jam (it deserves the capital letters, believe me). Goosers had been picked at The Red House last June and vacuum packed, along with the blossoms. Such a perfect combination.



Being in lockdown and being a natural Do-er isn’t always comfortable. But there are plenty of “old wrinklies” to check in on in our town, and plenty in the music world, too who love to have a natter on the phone, so WhatsApp and Google Hangouts have been busy. (other apps are available…) AND this gave me plenty of opportunity to put care packages together *cue ribbons, pretty paper, and coloured pencils. There were Easter biscuits to send off to our kids along with spring time candles, linen scent bags, and family hand-me-downs found while achieving My One Drawer A Day cleaning regime. They’re only in London, but oh they feel so much farther away. Other biscuits and jam went to friends all over the country. The simple act of putting on the kettle, making tea, and sitting down to share a chocolate cookie and life’s woes would be very welcome just about now. Along with a big hug. Gosh, we miss you.


Mr G joined the online video frenzy and did a series of How to Make Your Own Sourdough Bread – he put it up on IGTV and had a load of fun sharing his knowledge and how to autolyse. The bread geekery is never ending! This year he made his first batch of hot crossed buns, too and I must admit, they were pretty darn delicious.

Chop therapy continued along with the freezer maintenance. I made some very tasty rosemary-infused quince jam tarts with crumbled marzipan. Then, it suddenly hit me that the leftover pastry needed to be filled with some chocolate custard, so whoosh – pie time! A vintage curved-edge Pyrex dish was just the ticket. Flavours and visions of my childhood feel rather comforting at the moment. Ironing is a chore I don’t mind, in fact I rather like it – weird, right? So I requisitioned the guest bedroom and turned it into my refuge, my ironing/sewing/mending room. The Cinderella top of the house view over town is expansive. I listen to the radio non-stop, from podcasts to The Archers (don’t judge), and the news. I’m a radio junkie, if truth be told. I guess it’s growing up listening to Armed Forces Radio every night to fall asleep.

Last week I think I really nailed making seedy crisp breads – I used a recipe from a super initiative spearheaded by Jennifer Johnston called Notes from Musicians’ Kitchens which is raising money for Help Musicians UK, so get in there and donate while receiving yummy recipes. Feed your soul, and others’ too. It helps. It really does.

So, while the chopping, cooking, and cleaning continues, I wait to see if my summer and autumn jobs will happen. The good people of Des Moines Metro Opera have already said that if they cannot hold the festival, they will compensate the artists. True class acts, so thank you, Michael Egel and Team. Well, if my first Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd cannot happen this summer, we will have some pennies in the bank, along with the hope of making more hot pies in the future.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay sane.  #lockdownlove 💙

Switching hats…

“And we are finally here” says Margaret Johnson in the opening number of The Light in the Piazza. Adam Guettel’s deliciously joyous musical is back in my life after ten years. I sang the European premiere at CURVE in 2009 with Caroline Sheen, and tonight (18 June) Piazza finally gets its London premiere at the Royal Festival Hall starring Renée Fleming and Dove Cameron, and the gloriously talented Rob Houchen. Don’t get me started on the Mensch that is Alex Jennings. Daniel Evans’s production is pure class. Kim Grigsby conducts with such heart. I hope you come.

Tonight my role is the understudy – and it’s been a few years since I’ve done that. Don’t worry, there’s no All About Eve going on here – I truly love the idea that I’m here as Renée’s safety net, in order that she can fly higher in a role that I care for so deeply. So buckets of merde to the whole company!

2019 so far…

I have a hard time remembering…(insert middle-aged singer joke here).

January: Philip Venables’s 4.48 Psychosis (based on the Sarah Kane play) had its USA/New York premiere at PROTOTYPE. We girls had a full page photo illustration by Teresa Eng in The New Yorker – a huge thrill.

In a series of especially effective exchanges, the dialogue between the central, suicidal figure (played by Gweneth-Ann Rand) and her psychiatrist (played by Lucy Schaufer) are not spoken at all…While those moments are often marked by a stillness on the stage, other moments explode with action–from Rand and Schaufer” – Contemporary Performance

“Schaufer, a long-time proponent of contemporary music, plays the psychiatrist with rich-voiced quiescence, a cool, velvety ploy to Rand’s fiery Gwen. Toward the end of the opera, her performance takes a suitably patronizing tone, Schaufer cooing at her patient in taunting, wordless melisma.Parterre


February: Onto Niflheim! Gavin Higgins and Francesca Simon’s first opera – The Monstrous Child – world premiere at The Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House.

LOOK, MA, NO HANDS! My Modgud was “phlegmatic” and “strong” – but mostly she just wanted to scratch her nose without taking out an eye. Loved it!

credit: Stephen Cummiskey

March and April: Marcellina Le Nozze di Figaro for Arizona Opera! No furniture was left unchewed.


Marcellina, Lucy Schaufer captured the attention of the audience with her mellifluous singing and suave manner.” Operawire



May: Well, June was bustin’ out all over a few weeks early. I was back with my pal Alex Parker for another musical in concert at Cadogan Hall for Carousel. What a brilliant reunion for Janie Dee and Jo Riding. It was a stupendous night. Hadley Fraser blew us away as Billy. Patricia Routledge narrated with such heart I nearly burst several times, especially knowing she was the Nettie at the National, and I had big shoes to fill. New friends made and friends in the audience gave the evening a quality I’ll never forget.

As Nettie Fowler, Lucy Schaufer’s operatic background led to her spine-tingling take on You’ll Never Walk Alone. But back in 1992 it had been Patricia Routledge (not yet then a Dame) who played Nettie. Incredibly, and at the age of 90!, Routledge returned to this production as the narrator. For those in the audience who remembered the 1992 show, to see Dame Patricia singing along in the finale of the show’s totemic anthem was unforgettable.Jonathan Baz


Then there’s WILD PLUM ARTS!

Our 2019 Season is ALL ABOUT THE WOMEN, and the premieres will be on July 10 at the Cheltenham Music Festival event Composium.

The new commissions are:

  • Musae – a new commission from Zoë Martlew for mezzo-soprano and piano. See our Composers on film page to hear Zoë talk about the songs.
  • Violated Blossoms – a new commission from Emma-Ruth Richards for soprano and cello. Emma-Ruth talks about the piece on our Composers on film page.
  • Speak Up, a song for mezzo and piano by Lisa Robertson, one of the six composers in our PRS Collaboration, commissioned jointly by the Cheltenham Music Festival and Wild Plum Arts.

The performers will be Lucy Schaufer (mezzo) Huw Watkins (piano) Elizabeth Karani (soprano) and Gabriel Cabezas (cello).

Plus our first artist residency begins August 5!

Wild Plum Arts has been invited by the Britten-Pears Foundation to host an artists residency at The Red House in Aldeburgh from August 5th until September 2nd this year. Wild Plum: Made at the Red House.

If you would like to support our work for the residency (Chris and I will be doing all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry), please visit our dedicated campaign page.


Rear view mirror and the road ahead

Good morning from Chicago.

Huw Watkins and I are off to Ravinia for WILD PLUM ARTS’ American debut, presenting The Class of 1938 which includes a new song written for us by John Corigliano and three new arrangements by Michele Brourman of songs from the 1960s folk revivalist movement. Plus there’s Joan Tower, John Harbison, Charles Wuorinen, William Bolcom and Frederic Rzewski. The world premiere on 29 June at Wigmore Hall was electric because of the audience’s energy and was called “song in performance.”  

I’m rather proud of that.

Aldeburgh Festival 2018

The 2017-2018 season may be coming to a close, and boy, was it full: performing new works, launching artistic led organisations including WILD PLUM ARTS and SWAP’RA, and I started curating programs. My first for the Aldeburgh Festival in June was a corker – I’m the first person to ever sing Randy Newman at the Snape Maltings. Oh, I’ll fill you in.

For now, I’m heading up the lakeshore with my music and a cup of tea.

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Commissioned by Wild Plum Arts – thank you, John!

All new and lots of news!

This year 2017 has gotten off to a tremendous start with two wins at The Grammy Awards for our Los Angeles Opera recording of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles:  Best Classical Recording and Best Engineered Classical Recording.  Brava to Team Ghosts!  I squeezed in a quick 38 hour trip to LA for the ceremony in between performances of Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance at English National Opera – it was nutsy but worth every moment.  (LA Times 12 February 2017)

red carpet Grammys

When I returned to England, the news kept coming thick and fast.  When the Grammy nominations were announced, Jamie Sotonoff at The Daily Herald in Chicago called and did an article about the “hometown girl done good”  (Daily Herald 3 January 2017) but little did I know that once we had won, Carpentersville, my home town, decided they needed to celebrate too.  Well, stand back, because let it here be known that Ed Ritter, President of Carpentersville, did indeed proclaim Tuesday, February 21, as Lucy Schaufer Day throughout this village!  Well – my head still reels from such an honour.  So I decided that Carpentersville and the suburban area surrounding shall hear from me every February 21st to remind them how important the arts and music education are to our society and that they’d best keep it funded.  So – give a girl a day, and she’s take a soap box.
(Chicago Tribune 24 February 2017) proclamation

February’s gifts kept on coming.  I had promised myself to put my producer’s hat back on as it had been a few years since I had released my debut solo CD, which had three world premiere recordings, and it was now time to get commissioning again.  My husband Christopher Gillett and I have started a new charity called WILDPLUM and we’re off and running.  I met with John Gilhooly at The Wigmore Hall and on 29 June 2018, Huw Watkins and I will perform The Class of 1938, celebrating the 80th birthdays of John Corigliano (new commission – and it’s finished already!), William Bolcom, John Harbison, Joan Tower, Frederic Rzewski – including music by the folk legends Gordon Lightfoot, Hedi West and Peter Yarrow in new arrangements by Michele Brourman. I will be joined by Christopher Glynn for another evening at The Wigmore Hall, and details on that once the date is confirmed.  So all in all, a good start and I like my producer’s hat.  It’s a good fit.

The website will continue to change as the weeks go on.  It’s all new.  A new chapter, new adventures and so – the electronic stuff needs to morph too.  Thanks for your patience.

What’s next? I am still wearing my singer’s hat – never you fear.  You’ll have to drag me off the boards!  I’ve just finished Ruth in Pirates at ENO and here’s what coming up for the rest of the 2016-2017 season:

  • Multiple roles in Peter Eötvös’ The Golden Dragon, Music Theatre Wales, Tongyeong International Music Festival, Korea, 31 March, 1-2 April 
  • Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, Opera Philadelphia Tickets and information
  • Angela in Marie Incontrera and Kabir Sehgal’s satirical opera Angela’s Ring, Recording in New York
  • Sondheim: Smiles of a Summer Evening, Cadogan Hall, The Alex Parker Orchestra, 4 June at 630pm  Tickets and information
  • Florence Pike in Albert Herring at the Buxton Festival, 8 – 22 July Tickets and information
  • I am on a leave of absence from the Royal College of Music until academic year 2018/2019

If you have any concert/opera enquiries, please contact Margaret Levine
For musical theatre enquiries, please contact Shane Collins